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People smugglers ramp up Channel crossings in race to beat Priti Patel's immigration bill

Priti Patel called on to deliver anti-migrant armada

The Telegraph has revealed cross-Channel people smugglers have ramped up efforts to get migrants to the UK before the Home Secretary's new immigration bill receives royal assent. The broadsheet points out 410 migrants arrived on English shores on Saturday, 102 made the trip on Sunday, and another 294 completed the perilous 21-mile journey on Monday.

The BBC reports French authorities prevented an additional 482 migrants from making the trip over those three days by intercepting 17 vessels.

Around 2,500 people have completed the Channel crossing in October so far, taking the UK's overall figure for 2021 to 19,533.

In 2020, the total number of people who crossed the strait was 8,460.

Priti Patel, 49, passed the Nationalities and Borders Bill through the House of Commons earlier this year to hold back arrivals to the UK.

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People smugglers ramp up Channel crossings in race to beat Priti Patel's immigration bill

People smugglers ramp up Channel crossings in race to beat Priti Patel's immigration bill (Image: Getty)

Migrant boat

Migrant boat (Image: Getty)

The bill, which increases the prison sentence for those crossing into the UK to four years and imposes a maximum life sentence for smugglers, is set to come into force in the New Year.

The bill will also pave the way to create domestic and potentially overseas processing centres.

Dan O'Mahoney, the Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said Patel's new bill could provide "long term" solutions to the Channel crossers.

"The Government is determined to tackle the unacceptable rise in dangerous Channel crossings using every tool at our disposal, at every stage in the journey," he said.

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UK patrol boat

UK patrol boat (Image: Getty)

"The Government's New Plan for Immigration provides a long term solution to fix the broken system and deliver the change required to tackle criminal gangs and prevent further loss of life."

According to the Telegraph, around 2,000 migrants are said to be waiting on France's northern coast.

However, the professional officer for the Border Force Union ISU, Lucy Moreton, said the change in weather on Thursday has put off Channel crossers.

Ms Moreton added: "People smugglers will make use of any fears to try to encourage people to make the crossing and pay more for the crossing."

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Priti Patel on the Vote Leave campagin

Priti Patel on the Vote Leave campagin (Image: Getty)

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson

Priti Patel and Boris Johnson (Image: Getty)

The professional officer also said processing centres in Dover were "massively overcrowded" and added the Border Force has been forced to use temporary locations in nearby Folkestone to screen people.

"It's down to the number and the fact that we cannot move them on," she said.

"The local authorities don't have space for them."