The lorry route to the UK was regularly used by smugglers, mostly on the back of lorries, until the UK and France tightened joint controls, which led to migrants crossing the cheaper small boat option in 2018. Nearly 40,000 have crossed the English Channel by boat so far this year, 12,000 of them from Albania.
The new ‘alternate’ driver method is an attempt to circumvent these restrictions and avoid being picked up by border forces and processed by immigration authorities when they arrive via small boats across the Sleeve.
It comes as Border Force and Home Office officials brace for an increase in small migrant boat crossings this weekend as the weather settles after more than a week of rain and winds violent.
Ministers fear that up to 10,000 people could come in the run-up to Christmas, as November is a peak month when migrants completing autumn harvest work in Europe head north to cross the Channel to the United Kingdom. Last year, 9,000 people reached the UK in small boats in November and December.
The increase will put the Manston asylum processing center in Kent under further pressure after the Home Office dispersed more than 2,800 migrants to hotels and other accommodation at the ‘catastrophically overcrowded’ site to reduce the number to less than 1,200 and within its capacity of 1,500.
At least one council has considered declaring a ‘critical incident’ because the sudden scattering of asylum seekers in its area means the local NHS, education and social services are under so much pressure that they cannot provide full services to its community. This means that the police and other public services are placed on an emergency footing.