Almost 600 refugees have been intercepted trying to cross the English Channel, prompting Priti Patel to reaffirm her “unwavering determination” to stop the journeys.

A total of 378 people were detained by the UK authorities in 12 incidents on Sunday, while French officials held 178 more in five further incidents, according to the Home Office.

Last week, the number of people who had crossed to the UK so far this year reached 8,452, topping the figure of 8,417 for the whole of 2020.

A Border Force spokesman said officers were "currently dealing with ongoing small boat incidents off the Kent coast".

“Further details will be provided after the initial response and once the situation has been resolved," he added.

On Tuesday, the Home Secretary announced an agreement to more than double the number of police patrolling French beaches, with the Government to give France £54 million.

And in a statement yesterday, Patel said: “The British public should be in no doubt of our unwavering determination to stop these dangerous crossings from safe EU countries and take down the evil criminal gangs behind them.

“We are utilising all aspects of Government to tackle this issue and our significant actions are having an impact.

“French authorities have already prevented over 7,500 migrants entering the UK this year, nearly treble the number for the same period in 2020, and earlier this week we signed a strengthened agreement to increase police patrols on French beaches, improve surveillance technology and enhance intelligence sharing.

“Since the start of 2020, we have secured more than 65 small boat related prosecutions, totalling over 53 years in jail.
This is the result of extensive work by law enforcement and intelligence partners.

“This week, we also saw the landmark Nationality and Borders Bill proceed through Parliament, which will reform the system to make people think again before attempting to enter this country illegally, and break the business model of people smugglers.”

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