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66 migrants caught crossing English Channel on Saturday morning

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that urgent action is needed to stop migrants trying to cross from France to the UK by sea.

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Border Force vessels were at the scene on Saturday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Border Force vessels were at the scene on Saturday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Border Force vessels were at the scene on Saturday (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Sixty-six suspected migrants were caught crossing the English Channel in small boats on Saturday morning.

It is understood that passengers on board four boats were intercepted by UK authorities amid a fresh wave of attempted sea crossings by migrants.

One of the boats, which was caught by the Border Force and taken to Dover, had 35 people on board, including eight children.

Eight migrants suspected of landing on a beach in Kingsdown in a dinghy, who all presented themselves as Iranian to the authorities, were arrested by Kent Police shortly after they are believed to have disembarked.

Two other boats, one with 16 passengers and the other with seven, were also taken in to Dover by Border Force officials.

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A Border Force boat carrying a family of suspected migrants earlier this week (Gareth Fuller/PA)

A Border Force boat carrying a family of suspected migrants earlier this week (Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

A Border Force boat carrying a family of suspected migrants earlier this week (Gareth Fuller/PA)

All of those arrested have been transferred to immigration officials for interview.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said on Saturday that it had been involved in a number of search and rescue operations along the Kent coast.

The criminal gangs involved in helping migrants make the crossing from France to the UK are “ruthless” and “do not care about the loss of life”, according to a spokeswoman for the Home Office.

Since last Thursday more than 280 migrants have attempted to cross the Channel.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said on Friday that urgent action is needed to tackle the migrant crisis in the Channel, adding that plans are being drawn up “immediately” to deal with the problem.

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Priti Patel held a meeting with her French counterpart earlier this week to discuss the migrant crossings (Toby Melville/PA)

Priti Patel held a meeting with her French counterpart earlier this week to discuss the migrant crossings (Toby Melville/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Priti Patel held a meeting with her French counterpart earlier this week to discuss the migrant crossings (Toby Melville/PA)

Her comments came following a meeting with French interior minister Christophe Castaner in Paris on Thursday, where they agreed to step up resources to intercept and stop the wave of crossings in small boats.

The prospect of British financial support for efforts to stem the flow of crossings from France was discussed at the meeting, according to the French AFP news agency, and Mr Castaner said that money from London would “reinforce patrols and improve effectiveness”.

Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned illegal migrants they would be sent back if they risked crossing the Channel.

He said: “If you come illegally, you are an illegal immigrant and I’m afraid the law will treat you as such.”

PA