image copyrightPA Media

Home Secretary Priti Patel has called for the removal of social media posts that "glamourise" dangerous migrant crossings from Europe.

In a letter to social media companies, Ms Patel said videos promoting "lethal crossings" were "unacceptable".

Facebook, which also owns Instagram, said people smuggling was illegal and that content encouraging the activity was "not allowed" on its platforms.

Several hundred migrants have attempted to cross the Channel in the past week.

Reports that a Border Force ship entered French waters and picked up migrants from a UK-bound dinghy are being investigated by the Home Office.

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Ms Patel's letter was sent after a video that appeared to show a group of men crossing the Channel in a dinghy went viral on TikTok.

People smugglers use posts – which also feature on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – to promote crossings to desperate migrants, the Home Office added.

"Posts which promote and even glamourise these lethal crossings are totally unacceptable," Ms Patel said.

"They encourage others to leave a safe European country and put their and their family's lives at risk and are even used by people smugglers to promote their deadly business."

"What these posts don't mention are the people who have died trying to make this crossing, or those forced to spend 13 hours in unseaworthy boats in freezing waters," Ms Patel said.

She added that social media companies had "made progress" in removing the posts but "must quickly and proactively… before more men, women and children die in the Channel".

A Facebook spokesman responded: "People smuggling is illegal and any ads, posts, pages or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook.

"We will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies around the world, including the NCA (National Crime Agency) and Europol to identify, remove and report this illegal activity."

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionThe Immigration Services Union said there was a scramble to get people out of the water on every calm day

Border Force dealt with four boats carrying 83 people across the Channel on Friday.

So far this year, there have been more than 4,000 arrivals, a trend that could see this year's numbers outstrip last year's total of about 8,500.

The Home Office said it was "cracking down on the despicable criminal gangs behind people smuggling" and more than 4,000 people had been prevented from making the crossing so far this year.

But Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said the government's approach was not working.

"The reality is that when fleeing war, terror and persecution, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary steps to seek safety in another country," he said.

"Creating safe and regular routes to the UK – through an expanded resettlement programme, humanitarian visas and reforming the restrictive family reunion rules – is the way to effectively address the issue."

'Rescue the priority'

Meanwhile, the Home Office is investigating a Daily Mail report that a Border Force officer asked a French ship for permission to collect a group of migrants in French waters last weekend.

Lucy Moreton, from the Immigration Services Union, said she had no first-hand knowledge of the incident, but there had apparently been no threat to life.

She said it was a common tactic for migrants to threaten to throw someone overboard if a French vessel came too close, because migrants knew if they were picked up by a UK ship they were "as good as here".

The Prefecture Maritime de la Manche in France said the risks that migrants crossing the Channel faced included overloaded boats, makeshift vessels, lack of life jackets, cold sea temperatures and inappropriate clothing.

"The priority is therefore to be able to rescue them," a statement said.

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