Britain Under Siege: 56,000 Illegal Migrant Interceptions at the Border in 2016

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DENIS CHARLET/AFP/Getty
JACK MONTGOMERY

Illegal migrants made more than 56,000 attempts to breach Britain’s borders from French ports and terminals in 2016.

Border Force and other British authorities intercepted an average of 153 attempted crossings a day throughout the year, according to statistics acquired by the BBC through Freedom of Information requests.

This represents an overall fall on the previous year — thanks in large part to the dismantling of the notorious, crime-ridden Calais Jungle encampment — but the number of migrants discovered in British ferry ports increased by several hundred, from 1,305 in 2015 to 1,868 in 2016.

Charlie Elphicke, MP for the Dover and Deal constituency, said it was “shocking that migrants at Calais tried to break into Britain more than 50,000 times last year”.

He added: “These figures underline the true scale of the challenge we face – and why we need more investment at our border.

“This is why we worked so hard to get the Calais Jungle dismantled.”

A spokesman for the UK Home Office argued that the drop in overall detections does, in fact, “make [it] absolutely clear that our approach to securing the UK’s border is working”.

They claimed the Government was “not complacent”, and British authorities would “continue to work closely with our French counterparts to maintain border security and keep legitimate passengers and trade moving”.

However, the Road Haulage Association appears to take a different view, with Director of Policy and Public Affairs Rod McKenzie stressing that the numbers are still their second-highest for seven years.

“Our members are terrified and angry. Gangs of marauding migrants, often armed with iron bars are attacking their vehicles,” he said.

“The police are heavily outnumbered and it’s clear that they can no longer cope with the ever increasing numbers trying to make the crossing to the UK.

“We hear of drivers refusing to make the journey between Dover and Calais while many hauliers are rerouting their vehicles around the Port at a cost of many thousands of pounds.”

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