More than 10,000 migrants are being smuggled into the UK every year, security officials say, underlining the British government’s lack of control over the country’s borders.
Security officials in the French city of Calais told British media on Sunday that each week nearly 200 migrants from the city enter the UK undetected, while hiding in trucks.
The sources estimated that more than 10,000 migrants enter the UK in the back of lorries.
The uninvited guests apparently jump out from the large transportation vehicles upon reaching British soil.
“Each lorry is packed with dozens of migrants and many are stopped before they reach England,” the Telegraph quoted a regional security official as saying.
“But we are certain that a few get through. The estimate is around 200 a week. We know others are crossing in small boats or vans.”
People smugglers and migrants themselves systemically force lorries to stop and board them before they reach the ferry port in Calais.
There are an estimated 9,000 migrants inside a Calais camp known as The Jungle, most of whom are actively seeking an entry into the UK.
This poses a new challenge for Britain’s ruling government that has already drawn heavy criticism for its failed immigration policies.
In late July, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to bring down the country’s net migration levels as it prepares to leave the European Union (EU).
According to quarterly figures from the Office for National Statistics, published in late May, some 630,000 people came to Britain in 2015 while only 297,000 left the country.
While the total migrants entering the UK showed a slight drop of 2,000, the number of those who left the country was 22,000 less than last year, leading to a net migration of 333,000.
May’s predecessor, James Cameron, had promised to cut the net migration below 100,000.
During her first Prime Minister's Question session at the House of Commons, May said she was committed to reducing the overall number of immigrant entries to the UK as one of the main pledges of the Brexit option.
Nearly 52 percent of British voters opted to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23, in hopes of taking back control over their borders and having more economic freedom.
About 200 migrants from the Calais area are being smuggled into Britain in trucks each week, French officials and security sources said.
The estimate - equivalent to more than 10,000 illegal migrants arriving each year - represents a surge in the number of so-called "lorry drops", when migrants hiding in the back of goods vehicles jump out after safely reaching the UK.
Official figures show a continuing rise in the number of migrants found in the backs of trucks and cars in Britain, which more than doubled to 6400 last year, the chief inspector of borders and immigration said in a report last month. The new French estimate suggests that many more are coming through undetected.
Gangs of armed people-smugglers operating around Calais have started forcing trucks to stop before they reach the port so migrants can break in.
Security was tightened around the ferry port and the entrance of Eurotunnel last year after a spate of incidents that saw hundreds of people at a time attempt to enter both facilities. A few dozen migrants were estimated to succeed in making it to Britain each night at the peak of the incidents.The motorway is regularly blocked with felled trees and debris by masked smugglers, often brandishing sticks and sometimes knives. French police responded to mounting political pressure by rushing 140 additional officers to the area at the weekend.
Efforts to enter the ferry and tunnel terminals tailed off with the introduction of new security measures, including a "moat" of flooded, low-lying land around the tunnel entrance. Consequently, migrants are now forced to travel further from Calais to stow away in lorries heading for the tunnel or cross-Channel ferries. "Each lorry is packed with dozens of migrants and many are stopped before they reach England," a regional security official said. "But we are certain that a few get through. The estimate is around 200 a week. We know others are crossing in small boats or vans."