THE total number of people who have crossed the English Channel in search of asylum so far this year has passed 18,000, Ministry of Defence figures suggest.

On Saturday, 337 people crossed from France in 10 small boats, bringing the total number of people brought to the UK this year to 18,108.

The milestone was broken just five days after 696 people were rescued by Border Force and brought to shore last Monday, the busiest day for Channel crossings so far this year.

Analysis of the MoD’s provisional figures showed 1709 people have been brought to the UK so far in August. That is more than half of the 3053 people rescued in August 2021.

The vast majority were brought to shore in Dover but many were taken to the Port of Ramsgate due to concerns about congestion around the Dover port caused by freight and holidaymaker traffic.

The busiest week for crossings so far in 2022 was the week of April 19 when 2076 people made the dangerous journey.

However it is likely crossings will continue into next week, with the Met Office confirming warm weather and calm winds are set to continue in the south-east of England.

Figures show that 12,840 people have made the crossing since Priti Patel announced her Rwanda plan on April 14.

A report from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the British Red Cross, published last week, found critical gaps in the UK asylum system mean people seeking safety, including those fleeing modern slavery, may be at risk of potential exploitation.

The research found inadequate support is exposing people in need of protection to potential harm. It cites examples of vulnerable asylum seekers forced into modern slavery, including domestic servitude, sexual and labour exploitation and forced criminality.

The Home Office said it was considering the findings of the report.