Government panic over missing boat migrants

Government panic over missing boat migrants… as dockside reception centre grows from single office to sprawling mass of cabins (and still buckles under the strain)

  • Total number of boat migrants passed 10,500 this year – 2,000 more than 2020
  • 1,500 more are massing in Calais and Dunkirk waiting for weather to improve
  • When they arrive, they are put into hotels to quarantine before being processed 
  • But hundreds have gone missing after absconding from their hotels 

Hundreds of migrants who arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel on small boats have gone missing after absconding from their hotels, The Mail on Sunday has been told.

As the total number of boat migrants passed 10,500 this year – 2,000 more than the 8,417 who arrived in the whole of 2020 – sources said that Ministers had held urgent discussions between departments over the ‘tracking’ systems in place to monitor their movements after they arrive

A further 1,500 migrants are massing around Calais and Dunkirk waiting for an improvement in the weather before they try to reach Britain.

Hundreds of migrants who arrived in the UK after crossing the English Channel on small boats have gone missing after absconding from their hotels, The Mail on Sunday has been told. Pictured: A group of migrants are brought in to Dover, Kent by Border Force, August 5, 2021

A Government source said: ‘There is growing consternation across Government about how many are coming here – and where they all are going. Nerves are fraying on this.’

After they arrive here, the migrants are put into hotels, where they are supposed to quarantine for ten days before being processed. Up to 10,000 hotel beds around the country are now taken up by the arrivals, with hotels block-booked by the Home Office until January to house them.

This newspaper revealed last week how dozens of asylum seekers are being housed in a hotel in one of London’s most upmarket postcodes where they are allowed to come and go as they please.

The Best Western Kensington Olympia, a short walk from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s residence, Kensington Palace, has been closed to paying customers and is putting up 55 migrants – in some cases for up to nine months.

Residents are given key cards to access the building, where the rooms are equipped with wi-fi, air conditioning and flatscreen televisions.

The French government is under growing pressure to set up a joint maritime brigade to turn back the migrants.

As the total number of boat migrants passed 10,500 this year – 2,000 more than the 8,417 who arrived in the whole of 2020. Pictured: A line of migrants walk up a beach after coming ashore at Dungeness earlier this week

French President Emmanuel Macron has so far refused British offers of joint sea forces to stop and return migrant boats to France, with his officials claiming that maritime law dictates their vessels can stop the migrants’ boats only if they seek help or need rescuing.

The British dispute this, saying the rules of the sea allow the interception of ‘illegal’ attempts to enter UK waters.

Britain has given France an extra £54 million to double the number of police on beaches to 200 officers and boost surveillance. 

Home Office dockside migrant reception centre grows from a single office to sprawling mass of cabins (and still buckles under the strain)

By Jonathan Bucks For The Mail On Sunday

Sprawling across the Dover Docks, the Home Office’s migrant reception centre has ballooned in size in recent months under the strain of ever-growing numbers of arrivals.

Previously a simple brick building at the end of a jetty, the vast complex now includes an enormous marquee and at least ten cabins to handle the hundreds of migrants picked up by the Border Force every day while crossing the Channel.

More than 10,000 migrants have arrived in the UK so far this year – with a record-breaking 22,000 arrivals expected by the end of the year.

Our pictures, taken last Thursday when 475 migrants arrived in the UK, show some of them being processed by Home Office officials while a coach and bus wait to whisk them away.

Growing crisis: Dover’s migrant reception centre has expanded from a single building to include a marquee and several cabins (pictured last week)

The reception centre at Tug Haven, where migrants are taken for an initial assessment after crossing the Channel, has space for about 380 people.

But it emerged earlier this month that the expanded site is still buckling under the pressure of record numbers of migrants crossing the Channel. When 430 reached the UK on July 19, immigration officials were forced to register them in a public car park because there was no more space in the centre. Pizza takeaways were ordered because there were no cooking facilities.

A damning official report last year said the Tug Haven reception centre ‘resembled a rubble-strewn building site’. Peter Clarke, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, said: ‘Detainees almost always arrived wet and cold, but then often had to spend hours in the open air or in cramped containers. Basic supplies, including dry clothing, ran out during the inspection and some detainees were placed on escort vehicles in wet clothes.’

February 2020: Dover’s migrant reception centre seen in February last year

In one case, a 15-year-old boy was held for more than 66 hours. A lone 80-year-old woman was held for more than 40 hours. Inspectors also found there was ‘nowhere suitable’ to isolate migrants displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

The Home Affairs Select Committee reported last week that women with babies and very young children were among 56 migrants held in a cramped room covered with thin mattresses at a unit in Dover. It said it was ‘wholly inappropriate’ and a clear Covid risk, with some migrants held beyond legal time limits.

The Home Office said it took the welfare of migrants seriously but services were under pressure from ‘unacceptable numbers of people’ crossing the Channel with the help of traffickers.

It emerged last week that a multi-million-pound facility to process migrants will be built in Dover to cope with the worsening crisis.

The £2 million Intake Unit, which will be converted from a disused welding site, will be ready next May, according to Home Secretary Priti Patel.

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