Another Channel crossing in near freezing conditions

Dozens of migrants including four children and a baby have reached the UK after crossing the English Channel in what are believed to be near freezing conditions.

Small boats which carried 111 people including five children wrapped up against the bitter cold embarked on the crossing from France and were picked up by a Border Force cutter off the coast of Kent on Monday.

The youngsters, some too young to walk, were visibly suffering from the freezing temperatures despite being wrapped in blankets and life jackets.

The arrival of these migrants comes despite a recent £28m agreement between the UK and France to double police patrols on French beaches.

Earlier this week Kent County Council announced it had begun accepting unaccompanied migrant children for the first time since the summer.  The local authority said it would resume taking in unaccompanied youngsters who arrive on boats, almost four months after it said it could no longer safely care for any new arrivals, prompting a scramble to find places elsewhere in the country.

The council, however, warned that a long term  solution still needed to be implemented to avoid services being overwhelmed again.

Under the £28m agreement aimed at reducing the number of migrants crossing the English Channel, Priti Patel, the home secretary, and her French counterpart, Gerald Darmanin, said they planned to increase the police presence and use drones to make the route more difficult to cross.

Ms Patel, however, has faced criticism for her handling of the issue, with one humanitarian charity warning the Home Office plan had “no chance of having a significant impact on this dangerous state of affairs”.

Director of Detention Action, Bella Sankey, said: “No amount of massaging the numbers masks her refusal to take the sensible step of creating a safe and legal route to the UK from northern France, thereby preventing crossings and child deaths”