Six Iranian nationals found on Kent beach following 'major incident' declaration over migrant Channel crossings

Six Iranian nationals found on Kent beach

People walk on the beach at Kingsdown, near Deal, where six migrants landed by dinghy early this morning on December 30, 2018

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Six Iranian men have been found on a Kent beach, amid mounting calls for the Government to tackle the migrant crisis.

Border Force officers were called to Kingsdown near Deal at 7.30am on Sunday after the group were found with a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB).

They have all been medically assessed and handed over to immigration officials for processing, a Home Office spokeswoman confirmed.

A staff member at the Zetland Arms pub - which overlooks the beach - told the Press Association he saw the "unusual" sight of Border Force officials leading a small group of men from the shore to a Ford Transit van at around 9.30am.

The news comes less than a day after immigration minister Caroline Nokes visited Border Force staff six miles away in Dover, and just hours after Home Secretary Sajid Javid promised to do more to stop the "major incident" of small boats carrying migrants across the English Channel.


'A criminal organisation' 

The Home Secretary and his French counterpart Christophe Castaner have agreed to launch an "enhanced action plan" on migrants crossing the English Channel, the Home Office has said.

In a phone call on Sunday, the ministers agreed to a face-to-face meeting in January to assess whether further action is needed.

Javid will lead a meeting on Monday to discuss further action with senior officials from UK Government departments and agencies including Border Force and the National Crime Agency.

Ingrid Parrot, spokeswoman for the French Maritime Prefecture for the English Channel, said the number of illicit crossings in small boats had increased from 23 in 2016 and 13 in 2017 to 70 this year, the majority of them after the end of October.

Ms Parrot told BBC’s Today on Saturday: "Before 2018, we didn't have smugglers. But now we have smugglers on the French coast and it is really a network.

"Before that it was not a network, it was individual migrants who were trying to cross. Now it's a network, a criminal organisation."