Five Iranian migrants who were arrested for illegally entering the UK after crossing the English Channel in a dinghy were released by Border officials and told to “please report in regularly”.
The five men, aged between 18 and 44, landed on the shore in the coastal town of Pett Level, near Winchelsea in East Sussex. The Iranians were arrested and handed over to Home Office border officials, before being released and told to voluntarily report in regularly, reports the Express.
The Home Office said: “Sussex Police arrested five men on suspicion of entering the UK illegally. The five were passed to Border Force for interview.
“All five must now report regularly to the Home Office while their cases are progressed in line with immigration rules.”
Rob Whiteman, former chief executive of the UK Border Agency, admitted that Britain currently has as many as one million illegal immigrants living and working within her shores, the vast majority of whom will never be deported.
So far this summer 18 Albanian migrants were picked up from a sinking dingy in the waters off the coast of Kent, and a further 17 Albanians were found on a catamaran in Chichester harbour, West Sussex. Two Iranians were also found in a dingy off the coast of Dover in April – the first recorded illegal crossing of this kind.
These latest arrests come days after MPs called for warships to be deployed along Britain’s coastlines to boost national security and stop people illegally entering the country.
A report by the Home Affairs Select Committee found that there were only three border patrol ships protecting Britain’s 7,000 mile long coastline, with a fourth boat in the fleet currently serving in the Mediterranean. The report stated that by comparison, Italy has 600 boats patrolling a coastline of less than half the length.
The report added that small ports needed to be shielded as “a matter of urgency”.
One local resident of Pett Level, who spoke anonymously to the Daily Mail, said: “You hear rumours of migrants coming ashore along this stretch of coastline because it is so remote. But this is the first time I have heard of any boats coming ashore here. It’s quite shocking to know it has happened here.”
The south-east coast is believed to be the new destination on the cross-Channel route for illegal migration.