Border Force cutters have been axed from patrolling the English Channel for illegal small boats

Private vessels used for wind farm servicing have taken over the task instead, costing the taxpayer up to £36million per year.

Last year, none of the Border Force ships or vessels owned by the government were used to deal with small boat incidents, Home Office officials admitted to the Sun

There are five Government-owned cutters, but at least three of them were out of commission for long periods due to being repaired or serviced.

To make up for this, the government spend millions on a fleet of private catamarans that are normally used for offshore wind farms.

Last year, none of the Border Force ships (like the HMC Searcher, pictured above) or vessels owned by the government were used to deal with small boat incidents, Home Office officials admitted to the Sun

Last year, none of the Border Force ships (like the HMC Searcher, pictured above) or vessels owned by the government were used to deal with small boat incidents, Home Office officials admitted to the Sun

To make up for this, the government spend millions on a fleet of private catamarans that are normally used for offshore wind farms. They are now the UK's only patrols in the English Channel, where migrants try to reach British shores from France almost daily (file image of migrants crossing the Channel)

To make up for this, the government spend millions on a fleet of private catamarans that are normally used for offshore wind farms. They are now the UK’s only patrols in the English Channel, where migrants try to reach British shores from France almost daily (file image of migrants crossing the Channel)

They are now the UK’s only patrols in the English Channel, where migrants try to reach British shores from France almost daily.

Commercial transfer vessels came to the rescue in 544 of 604 small boat incidents last year, while only 50 were intercepted by the RNLI. 

The six coastal patrol ships as well as five government-owned vessels weren’t used at all, according to Home Office minister Michael Tomlinson. 

He said in a written parliamentary answer that ‘the Cutter and Coastal Patrol Vessel (CPV) fleet did not provide assistance to small boat operations’ in the southeastern area in 2023.

‘Instead, Border Force utilised a fleet of 5 Commercial Transfer Vessels (CTVs) – Defender, Hurricane, Ranger, Typhoon and Volunteer.’

Instead, five so-called Commercial Transfer Vessels (CTVs), which carry Border Force officials as well as their own private crew, were used.

The CTVs used for small boat operations last year are called Defender, Hurricane, Ranger, Typhoon and Volunteer. 

Pictures taken at the Dover Docks, Kent on the weekend showed the Typhoon arriving with around 50 migrants on board

Pictures taken at the Dover Docks, Kent on the weekend showed the Typhoon arriving with around 50 migrants on board

The Typhoon carried migrants arrives at the Dover Docks on the weekend. One picture showed a migrant wrapped in a foil blanket being pushed in a wheelchair

The Typhoon carried migrants arrives at the Dover Docks on the weekend. One picture showed a migrant wrapped in a foil blanket being pushed in a wheelchair

More than 120 migrants crossed the Channel in three small boats on February 10, bringing the total number of arrivals this year to 1,506

More than 120 migrants crossed the Channel in three small boats on February 10, bringing the total number of arrivals this year to 1,506

The Home Office told the Sun that ‘large boats like Cutters and Coastal Patrol Vessels are not suitable for rescue and recovery operations’.

By using private ‘alternative vessels’, the Border Force vessels were freed up to return to ‘protect the rest of the UK’s border’. 

This comes as more than 120 migrants crossed the Channel in three small boats on February 10, bringing the total number of arrivals this year to 1,506. 

A total of 124 migrants made the dangerous crossing across the choppy waters, the Home Office has confirmed.

The total figure for arrivals this year is down from the 2,072 by the same point in 2023 but up from 1,339 in 2022.

The total for the number who were intercepted by the Border Force for this week is 171 while the highest number who crossed in a single day so far this year was 358 on January 17.

Apart from the crossings on Saturday and Thursday last week, small boats had not been intercepted since January 31.

Pictures taken at the Dover Docks, Kent showed the Typhoon arriving with around 50 migrants on board.

One picture showed a migrant wrapped in a foil blanket being pushed in a wheelchair. Another appeared to show two men supporting each other with their arms resting on each other’s shoulders.  

A total of 1,335 migrants successfully crossed the Channel in the first 31 days of 2024 despite almost constant storms and poor weather conditions.

This was a 13 per cent increase over the same period last year when there were 1,180, compared with 1,339 in 2022.

Back in 2018, only 299 migrants crossed the Channel in small boats for the entire year.

However, figures increased to 1,843 in 2019 and 8,466 in 2020. In 2021, there was a massive increase to 28,526 before 2022’s record of 45,744.

This figure reduced in 2023 to 29,437 – still the second highest year on record.

Since January 2018,more than 115,000 people have successfully crossed the Channel – an average of 52 people per day.



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