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Eighteen migrants found on Dover ferry after smuggling themselves over Channel as Priti Patel vows trafficker clampdown

EIGHTEEN migrants have been found on a Dover ferry after they smuggled themselves across the Channel, as Priti Patel vows to clampdown on traffickers.

The migrants were found aboard the Cotes des Dunes ferry at around lunchtime today after it had docked at the port in Kent.

Emergency services were called and nine people in the group were taken to hospital as a precaution with the others transferred to Border Force.

Cops and Border Force officials, along with at least six ambulances, all attended the scene.

A spokesman for South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) confirmed ambulance staff attended scene “following reports of a number of people in need of medical attention”.

The Cotes des Dunes, which is run by DFDS, sails between Dover and Calais and has returned to service.

On Sunday Border Force intercepted 221 migrants on small boats.

The news comes on the day Home Secretary Priti Patel unveiled the Government’s plans to hand new powers to Border Force to be able to turn away small boats being used by people smugglers heading towards the UK.

And they will also be handed the powers to send the vessels back to France – but only with the say so of French President Emmanuel Macron. 

With crossings this summer set to smash through the 2020’s record numbers, the underfire Home Secretary will try to rush the new powers through Parliament.

But Patel was certain that a deal with France and other countries were “in the train” adding the type of deal were “absolutely vital” to crack down on the route,

Speaking yesterday she said: “When you look at the work we’re doing with France, we have a bilateral relationship there and of course we’re always pursuing return agreements.

She added: “Those agreements are under development, we are constantly working with countries around the world.”

Claiming asylum after coming from ‘safe’ countries like France, Belgium or Germany will become illegal under the new plans, with those found guilty facing up to four years in prison.

Ms Patel added: “People who have come from France, come from Germany, come from safe countries around the world who then cross the channel in these small boats in very dangerous conditions…they will not be able to claim asylum in the UK in a way in which they have been able to for too long.”

The Nationality and Borders Bill also confirms plans to place refugees in off-shore centres, although it does not detail any potential destinations. 

It's been reported the UK is considering sharing a processing centre with Denmark in Rwanda.

And it also gives the green light for tit for tat visa rows – seeing countries that refuse to take failed asylum seekers and foreign criminals blocked from accessing legal visas. 

Ms Patel added: “We will consider penalties – and it could be visas, it could be other aspects such as visa fees, or even slowing down processing – we will consider all options and that is one of the measures in this Bill.”

The Bill will also create a new body to carry out scientific evidence of age assessments to stop migrants posing as children to have their cases fast tracked. 

Migration Watch Chairman Alp Mehmet said the Home Secretary needed to secure a deal with France to stem the flow of migration.

He said: “I have no doubt the Home Secretary wants to deal with illegal immigration and has shown her usual courage in introducing the new Nationality and Borders Bill.

"If the measures she proposed make it into law, they will be a step in the right direction. But without French co-operation, the boats will keep coming and numbers will go on increasing.”

However charities blasted the Home Secretary for making asylum seekers “criminals.”

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council said: “This government is cruelly choosing to not only turn away those in need of safety but also treat them as criminals.

“This anti-refugee Bill will drive an already inefficient and ineffective system into disarray with even worse delays and far greater expense. 

“We need a system that gives everyone a fair hearing, protects those who need protecting and enables those to return who don’t. 

“Competence, compassion and control are needed instead of cruelty, cold-heartedness and ineptitude.”

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