A small boat containing 25 people crossed the English Channel on the day new laws came into force which mean migrant traffickers could face life sentences.

The crossing by the group, which included women and children, took place on Tuesday despite choppy waters and strong winds off the south-east coast of England.

This brings the total number of people to have made the dangerous crossing to 12,337 so far this year, compared with 5,761 in 2021 and 2,449 in 2020.

(PA Graphics)(PA Graphics)

Under the Nationality and Borders Act (NABA) which came into force on Tuesday, anyone caught piloting a boat carrying migrants in the Channel could face life behind bars.

The measures, which received Royal Assent in April, include tougher penalties for those who pilot a small boat or smuggle migrants into the UK by other dangerous or illegal means, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Also the maximum penalty for illegally entering the UK or overstaying a visa increased from six months to four years’ imprisonment with other measures in place over asylum applications and new powers for the authorities to search vessels for migrants.