Hastings refugee groups want ‘legal and safe routes into UK’ after 17 migrants detained

Picture: Adrian Langan
Picture: Adrian Langan

Three Hastings groups have issued a joint statement saying they are relieved the 17 migrants who arrived on the beaches in Hastings and Winchelsea were detained safely with no severe injuries.

Police said they were called at 8.12am on Thursday (October 3) after reports of the migrants in the Hastings and Pett Level area.

Picture: Adrian Langan

Picture: Adrian Langan

Officers said a small number of people may have left the beach and dispersed following the landing of two rigid inflatable boats containing suspected migrants in the Hastings area.

It is thought they probably crossed the English Channel from France overnight, coming ashore at Hastings, and further east near Winchelsea Beach.

A total of 17 migrants, including men, women and children, have been detained by immigration officials, but a few others from the Winchelsea landing are thought to have disappeared into the surrounding countryside.

In a joint statement issued on Friday (October 4), Hastings Community of Sanctuary, The Hastings and Rother Refugee Buddy Project and Hastings Supports Refugees said: “Widely reported in the local press, Detective Inspector Jon Gillings, of Hastings police, said: “Two of those detained required medical treatment and we are concerned that one or two others still outstanding may also be in need of assistance.”

“The police also expressed concern that an indeterminate number of people may have left the beach at Winchelsea before the arrival of the police.

“We support the request by the police that anyone who encounters someone appearing cold, wet, hungry, disorientated, or in need of medical aid, should immediately contact the police by phoning 999. The safest way for these vulnerable new arrivals to make their asylum claim is with police support.

“As a community of sanctuary – a welcoming place for all who are seeking refuge and safety – we hope anyone arriving in our town, whether by boat, bus or train, will be met with the warmth and compassion we see in our work on a daily basis.

The groups said it is ‘unsurprising’ that people seeking refuge are desperate to make the journey to Britain because of ‘police hostility’ in France.

They added: “These already vulnerable people, potentially including children, are now at high risk of being exploited by unscrupulous gangs and people traffickers.

“The solution to all of this is to create legal and safe routes into the UK.

“The UK Government must act to stop the situation where hundreds of people are sleeping rough in Northern France, subject to hostility and violence by local police, so desperate to be safe that they would cross the busiest shipping lane in the world on nothing more than rubber dinghies.”

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