Record 100,000 migrants could cross Channel in 2024

The UK is braced for a record 100,000 migrants to make the dangerous journey across the Channel on small boats this year.

Experts fear the huge number – the same as the population of Rochdale – could arrive based on figures for the first three months of 2024. It comes as the Sunday Express reveals the number of migrants who have been lost after “absconding” has risen by thousands. Officials fear an arrivals surge as ruthless smugglers are also understood to be “tricking” people into a need to “rush” ahead of the upcoming general election.

Long-term weather forecasts suggest a calm spring and summer, while deaths in the Channel have not deterred others. The record year for crossings was 2022 when 45,755 migrants made the perilous journey. Last year the figure was 29,437. So far this year 4,644 have crossed, the highest number for any January to March period. The next highest was January to March 2022 with a total of 4,548.

A Royal National Lifeboat Institution source said: “The figure being spoken about is up to 100,000. It already looks very possible. There have been tragedies for a number of years and it is showing no negative impact on numbers. The gangs are also urging people 2024 might be the last year it is so easy because of a potential change in Government.

“And the forecasts we’re seeing suggest it’ll be a nice spring and summer. It’s been very busy. We’re flat out.” A Border Force source added: “We know 2024 will be extremely busy – 100,000 is not off the table.”

Tory MP Nigel Mills said: “It’s shocking to hear such a figure. Everything needs to be done to make sure we can get a grip.”

Meanwhile, the number of migrants the Government has lost track of jumped from 32,817 at the end of December 2022 to 38,730 by August last year. Absconders include asylum seekers and those who have entered illegally or overstayed their visa. There was a peak at the end of 2011, with 67,691 absconders. Alp Mehmet, chairman of the Migrant Watch UK think tank, said: “This is very worrying given there may be dangerous criminals among those who have gone to ground.”

A Home Office spokesman dismissed the figures as speculation and added: “Any individual tracked down by immigration enforcement after absconding will be removed from the UK at the earliest opportunity.”

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