Welcome to the Migration Watch Channel Crossings Tracker. The charts and table in this revamped tracker will automatically update every day around noon. If you would to like view the old, and no longer updated, Channel Tracker (of particular use for daily crossings data prior to April 2022), click here. If you encounter any problems while using this page, please email email@example.com. To view daily crossings data, head to the bottom of the page.
Since 2018, illegal immigrants (many of whom make a claim for asylum) have been attempting to enter the United Kingdom by crossing the English Channel in small boats, often using inflatable dinghies.
Each year, the number of crossings has grown significantly. In 2023, the Home Office is expecting that crossings could reach 85,000. Such a huge number of crossings would be roughly equivalent to the total arrivals by small boat from 2018 to the end of 2022. Added to the current total, this upper forecast would equate all small boat arrivals to the population of the City of Oxford. The lower-end forecast, of 65,000, would equate the total arrivals to the population of the City of York.
This has placed such a burden on the asylum system, that asylum seekers are often having to be accommodated in hotels because local authorities do not have any social housing capacity to spare. In 2022, it emerged that the cost of housing asylum seekers in hotels has risen to £5.6 million a day (plus a further £1.2 million for Afghan evacuees). This is equivalent to the cost of 73,000 basic visits to an Accident and Emergency unit, read more on that here.
Typically, the Channel crossings begin in ernest around May. Before this point, variable weather conditions make it difficult to gage how high crossings are in a particular year.
However, late summer when calmer weather prevails has usually brought a major influx of arrivals which, in 2022, saw 8,641 people cross the Channel in a single month. On several days in the past two years, crossings have exceeded 1,000. The all-time high so far was 1,295 on the 22nd of August 2022. Consistent crossings at half that level for just four months would equal as many as 77,000.
As people attempt to cross the Channel, they are often escorted through French waters by French border patrol vessels before afterwards being intercepted by Border Force, Royal Navy or RNLI vessels. It is common for the small boats to lack sufficient fuel to reach the UK, making rescue by other ships necessary.
Uncontrolled landings, wherein a small boat makes it to the UK without being intercepted are rare due to increased observation efforts, but on occasion a boat may slip through the net. In one example, an illegal Albanian immigrant ran into a woman’s house and demanded to use her phone.
Due to an asylum backlog exceeding 100,000 cases, many of those to arrive by boat have yet to receive a conclusion to their asylum claim. However, of the 20,605 people who were identified for consideration as inadmissible, just 21 were actually removed from the country (see table Asy_09a here).
To access the old Channel Tracker, which is no longer updated, click here. The above charts and table are using official government data. To view the most recent data, click here. To view, past data published by the Ministry of Defence, click here. To view overall irregular migration statistics, click here.