Home Secretary seeks talks as dozens of migrants try to cross Channel
Home Secretary Priti Patel will hold talks with her French counterpart after dozens of migrants attempted to cross the Channel.
In four separate events on the south coast on Thursday, the Border Force dealt with a total of 37 people, including six children, who tried to reach England in small boats.
And a fifth incident off the Sussex coast reportedly involved more than 20 others, although the Home Office has not confirmed details.
The attempted crossings came on the day that official figures were published on immigration to the UK from the EU.
A Home Office spokeswoman said crossing the Channel in a small boat is a "huge risk" and "the criminal gangs who perpetuate this are ruthless and do not care about loss of life".
She added: "We have three Border Force cutters in the Channel and a joint action plan with France in place, including a co-ordination centre in Calais which assists with preventing illegal attempts to cross the border.
"Since January, we have returned more than 65 people who arrived illegally in small boats to Europe.
"We continue to monitor the ongoing situation and are working closely at all levels with French authorities on the issue.
"The Home Secretary will raise this issue with her French counterpart in the coming days."
At 2.30am on Thursday, the Border Force was alerted to a small boat travelling across the Channel towards the UK coast.
A group of eight men and one woman, who all said they were Iranian nationals, were found and taken to Dover.
At 5am, a Border Force cutter intercepted another small boat and a group of 11 males were taken to Dover.
The group, including two who said they were children, presented themselves as nationals of Iran, Guinea, Kuwait, and the Ivory Coast.
Two hours later six men, who said they were Iranian nationals, were spotted on a small boat and taken to Dover.
And at 11.30am, the Border Force was deployed to a vessel with a group of 11 people, including four who said they were children, who all claimed to be Iranian nationals.
The Border Force was also dealing with a "suspected small boat incident" at Winchelsea, East Sussex, later on Thursday.
And the Border Force and other law enforcement agencies were also "dealing with a number of other incidents", the Home Office said, without providing further details.