More than 20,000 people have crossed English Channel to UK in small boats this year, government figures show

More than 20,000 people have crossed the English Channel to the UK aboard small boats this year.

At least 607 people reached Britain on Saturday as arrivals in 2022 continue to far outstrip last year's pace.

It comes as the government was accused by barristers of trying to "demonise" people who support refugees with claims about "lefty lawyers".

The latest arrivals - who made the dangerous crossing aboard 14 boats - bring this year's total to more than 20,000 people, according to analysis by the PA news agency.

About 60,000 people were expected to cross the Dover Strait in 2022, more than double the figure for 2021.

Over the last few years, the Home Office has repeatedly vowed to make the route "unviable" for migrants, but the numbers have continued to increase: from 1,843 in 2019 to 28,526 in 2021.

The government has explored everything from sonic weapons to controversial pushback tactics to try to put a stop to the crossings, with questionable results.

Earlier this year, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced her flagship Rwanda offshore processing policy, which drew fierce criticism from charities and human rights groups.

The scheme was immediately challenged in the courts and the first, and so far the only, flight to Kigali was grounded after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights.

Despite the growing numbers, the UK's small boat arrivals are a fraction of the number of people going to Europe.

Data from the UN's refugee agency shows at least 120,441 people arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean by land and sea in 2021.