Dinghies carrying migrants spotted off Sussex coast

RNLI lifeboat during a rescue mission (stock image).
RNLI lifeboat during a rescue mission (stock image).

Several dinghies carrying almost 40 migrants were intercepted off the coast of Sussex this morning (Tuesday, July 16).

They were spotted by Border Force, which sent out a boat to pick them up.

The Coastguard was called out to assist in the operation.

The boats were spotted a few miles of the coast of Hastings.

A Home Office spokesman said Border Force dealt with three small boat incidents this morning and a total of 38 people were encountered.

At Dungeness in Kent, a group of eight people made up of men and women were found after a rigid-hulled inflatable boat (RHIB) washed ashore.

They were medically assessed and found to be well.

A further two vessels were intercepted off the Sussex coast. Two groups of 12 and 18 people made up of men, women and children were intercepted and taken to Dover. Medical checks are ongoing, the Home Office said.

All have been transferred to immigration officials for interview.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Anyone crossing the Channel in a small boat is taking a huge risk with their life and the lives of their children.

“Since the Home Secretary declared a major incident in December 2018, two cutters have returned to UK waters from overseas operations, we have agreed a joint action plan with France and increased activity out of the Joint Coordination and Information Centre in Calais.

“It is an established principle that those in need of protection should claim asylum in the first safe country they reach and since January more than 50 people who arrived illegally in the UK in small boats have been returned to Europe.”

Hastings RNLI was also called to the incident this morning.

A spokesman said: “We were tasked in support of a Border Force operation this morning as an additional asset if required. However, the lifeboat was stood down before reaching the scene and accordingly returned to Hastings.”