Two arrested after migrant rescue off UK coast

Migrants rescued off UK coast © Dave Conner
© Dave Conner

Border Force, the UK’s frontline border control organisation, has arrested two men after rescuing nine migrants from a small vessel in the English Channel.

The vessel was spotted in the Dover Strait, off the coast of East Sussex, yesterday morning. Border Force deployed a number of lifeboats and a coastguard rescue helicopter to intercept the craft at around 5:30am.

Border Force officers intercepted the vessel, a rigid inflatable boat, alongside the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Royal National Lifeboat Association and the National Crime Agency (NCA). The group rescued nine people, who told the agents they were from Albania, and took them to Sovereign Harbour in Eastborne.

Now, two of the men have been arrested on suspicion of people smuggling, and are being questioned by NCA. The other seven migrants are suspected of trying to enter the country illegally via the coast.

What did the government say?

A Home Office spokesperson said that the case was under investigation: “The group consisted of eight men and one woman, and they will be processed in line with immigration rules. An investigation led by the National Crime Agency is now underway.”

A senior investigating officer for the NCA, Martin Grace, said it was “extremely fortunate” that Border Force had been able to rescues those on the vessel. He added that other than the two who were arrested, the rest of the migrants would now be looked after by Border Force, but did not give any further information about where the group had left from, or their reason for trying to reach the UK.

Grace added that NCA is working closely with Immigration Enforcement to deal with the situation as efficiently as possible. Dover MP Charlie Elphicke told ITV that the situations underlines the need to secure the UK’s borders because of the “extreme lengths people will go to … trying to break into Britain”.

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