Far-right activists from political group Britain First – including convicted criminal Paul Golding – have sparked outrage after patrolling at a beach to catch migrants crossing the Channel.
The group said it sent people out to a beach near Dover, in Kent, on the lookout for desperate migrants who risk their lives to get to Britain from France.
They shared pictures of their ‘patriot migrant patrol’ on its website, saying: ‘Equipped with torches, binoculars and hi-vis jackets, our activists patrolled the beach keeping a close eye out for migrant crossings.’
Charities have criticised the patrols, with Care4Calais saying it was ‘shocked and concerned’ by the search parties, and that they were ‘unsettling.’
It comes after a spate of crossings in recent weeks, believed to have been prompted by calm summer seas and the impending Brexit deadline.
Far-right activists, including convicted criminal Paul Golding (pictured in the suit) have been patrolling a beach in Dover
The group said it sent people – including convicted criminal leader Paul Golding – out to a beach near Dover, in Kent, on the lookout for desperate migrants who risk their lives to get to Britain from France
A reported eight migrants were found on a boat in St Margaret’s Bay, in Dover, early this morning
Just last week, a record 93 migrants attempted the crossing on Tuesday, and a reported eight migrants were found on a boat in St Margaret’s Bay, in Dover, early this morning.
The action has been called ‘Operation White Cliffs’ by the group, who searched Samphire Hoe Beach near Dover last Saturday as hundreds of migrants have made it into the UK in recent weeks.
The far-right group reportedly says it would alert police and the Coastguard to crossings.
Charities have hit out at the beach patrols, with Care4Calais saying it was ‘shocked and concerned’ by the search parties
Posting on their Facebook page, they said: ‘We are shocked and concerned to learn of this unsettling development on our Kent coastline.
The group, pictured during their patrol, reportedly says it would alert police and the Coastguard to crossings
‘When deeply traumatised men, women and children arrive on our shores they are often in need of medical attention and should be met by professionals. We urge anyone who thinks otherwise to please think again.
‘Whatever your opinion regarding the arrival of people from France, we believe it is essential to maintain respect for British law and trust in the work carried out by our emergency response services.’
And Ben Bano, from migrant support group Seeking Sanctuary, said dealing with migrant crossing should be left to the authorities.
He told Kent Online: ‘This is an unhelpful and unnecessary initiative, which will only inflame tensions.
‘The various statutory bodies including the Border Force and the Coastguard are well able and equipped to deal with migrants arriving at our coast without out any involvement or interference from other bodies.’
More than 1,200 migrants have crossed the Channel this year – more than the whole of 2018.
Charities have slammed the far-right group’s patrols, describing them as ‘unsettling’
Last Tuesday a record 86 made it over in one day, and in August a total of 336 – also a record – crossed the Dover Strait, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
The perilous crossing has also seen two migrants – a man and a woman – die this summer.
They are charged thousands by people smugglers, who send them over from Calais in small boats.
Hundreds more are expected to make the crossing before the seasons change.
And many are anticipated to come from camps which have recently been shut down.
An encampment holding 1,100 – including children – at a disused gym site in Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, on Tuesday, while 400 asylum seekers were cleared from a site in Calais last week.
On its page, Britain First writes about its patrols: ‘This particular beach has been the main landing ground for multiple illegal migrant crossings.
‘This new operation has been dubbed ‘Operation White Cliffs’ and will be escalated over the next few weeks.’
The group was mocked by a number of people on the page in a comments section.
John Griffin wrote: ‘How many beaches are you jackbooted eejits patrolling?’
Jake Plumb said: ‘What would you do if you actually saw a boat? How would you know if illegal immigrants are on it?
‘What’s the torch for? Are you going to spy on people at night? Is the hi-viz jacket to make you look less like a perverted Dad’s Army?
‘Have you really thought this through?’
The group also asked people to make a donation to support it, to which Karl Bailey replied: ‘Obviously these patriots need money for cheap continental lager and more s*** tattoos.’