People smuggling gangs now using boats that can carry 100 migrants

People smuggling gangs are now using boats that can carry up to 100 migrants on brutal Channel crossings, sparking mass drowning fears

  • Up to 80,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Britain by boat next year
  • Read more: Another 155 illegal migrants detained after crossing the Channel

Callous people smugglers have started using longer, wider boats that can carry 100 migrants – prompting fears of mass drownings in the English Channel if the huge dinghies capsize.

The news comes as up to 80,000 migrants are expected to arrive in Britain by boat during 2023.

At least 45,755 landed here last year – a 62 per cent increase on the 2021 total of 28,426.

The average number per boat in 2022 was 41, compared with 28 in 2021. But now a French official, who did not want to be named, has told The Mail on Sunday that huge, 42ft-long inflatables are being bought online from China, shipped into Belgian ports such as Zeebrugge and Ostend and then taken by road to Calais where they are inflated and have engines attached.

He said: ‘These only cost a few hundred pounds and they break very easily at sea as they are poor quality. 

The new boats, above, from China, are much longer and wider than those currently used, below

 A picture of the older type of narrow boat used

‘The SNSM [the French equivalent of Britain’s RNLI] is concerned – because if a boat full of 100 migrants becomes stranded at sea, the SNSM cannot rescue all of them as its boats can only hold 60 people.’ Officials fear that if accidents occur at sea this year, more migrants will die.

READ MORE: Asylum seekers say it’s ‘like living in jail’ in hotels where taxpayers are footing their bill


The biggest single small boat tragedy so far in the Channel occurred in November 2021, when at least 27 migrants died after their boat sank. More than 400 migrants perished in the Mediterranean in April 2015 when their boat sank off Libya.

In a separate development, experts warned that the building of a new migrant detention centre in France will fail to reduce the numbers crossing the Channel. Plans for the centre in Dunkirk, were announced as part of a deal that will see the British Government give £500million to their French counterparts.

But French politicians and charities say the existence of 25 similar facilities in France has so far failed to stop the problem. Under European law, the French government cannot send anyone back to war-torn countries where their lives may be put at risk. Migrants from these countries are usually released, with many attempting to cross the Channel by boat again.

Nikolai Posner, of French migrant charity Utopia 56, said: ‘These migrants have come through a war zone like Libya. Do you think they are going to be deterred by a detention centre?’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The unacceptable number of people risking their lives by making these crossings is placing an unprecedented strain on our asylum system.’

Last night the Home Office said Channel migrants will be moved out of hotels and into old RAF sites and disused ferries.

News that 1,500 migrants were to be moved to the former RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire recently met with local opposition.

One of the 42ft-long inflatables with capacity for 100 people, pictured carrying dozens of migrants in the Channel. The boats are said to be of poor quality

I live in Rochdale AND Rwanda… I know which migrants would prefer, writes SIMON DANCZUK

Very few of those criticising the Government’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda know anything about the country. I do. I have a home in the African nation and spend much time there with my fiancee, Claudine.

I categorically believe it’s fine for Britain to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda. It’s certainly better than sending them to Rochdale – the Greater Manchester constituency I represented as a Labour MP for several years, and where I still have a home.

Rwandans are proud, welcoming people with strong energy, agriculture, trade, hospitality and financial service sectors. The country also specialises in dealing with the type of people who would be sent from the UK.

The fact is that the people flown to Rwanda will have greater opportunities than if dumped in places such as Rochdale, which has been Government policy for some time.

‘I categorically believe it’s fine for Britain to send illegal immigrants to Rwanda. It’s certainly better than sending them to Rochdale’

Those opposing the Home Secretary’s policies often don’t have to live with the consequences of illegal immigration. Towns such as Rochdale have limited resources. The NHS is over-stretched, schools are full and there’s a long waiting list for social housing.

I also know that, because of the influx of illegal immigrants into the area, it is losing its identity and traditional Lancashire character. The Government’s Rwandan strategy is a humane way of dealing with people-traffickers. It will reduce the number of cross-Channel economic migrants and alleviate pressure on struggling towns.

Many Labour MPs believe in open borders. Some, too, shamefully downplayed the child sex abuse perpetrated by British Pakistani grooming gangs, such as happened in Rochdale. Perhaps this is one of the reasons so many in Labour oppose the UK’s Rwandan immigration policy. The country is exceptionally strong on law and order, with a zero tolerance approach to any sort of crime.

If Labour is serious about winning back seats in the North, it would do better to drop its woke attitude towards criminals, immigration and diversity, and start supporting the Government’s Rwanda policy.

But I won’t hold my breath.

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