Six Iranian men have been met by UK border officials on a south coast beach.

The group and their inflatable boat were spotted by local residents on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent.

Sky News understands Border Force were alerted at around 7.30am on Sunday.

A group of suspected migrants on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent
Image: A group of Iranian men on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent. Pic: Lewis and Chris Morris

The men are now known to be Iranian and each has been given a medical assessment and transferred to immigration officials for processing.

Kingsdown lies around seven miles from the Port of Dover.

The government has declared a “major incident” following a recent spike in attempts by migrants to cross the Channel from France.

Border officials and an inflatable dinghy on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent
Image: Border officials inspect an inflatable dinghy. Pic: Lewis and Chris Morris

Scores of people have been intercepted, with two boats carrying 12 men from Syria and Iran brought to shore at Dover on Friday and 40 migrants detected on Christmas Day.

There are fears it is only a matter of time before there is a migrant death in the Channel from a capsized dinghy.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has cut short a family holiday to help deal with a situation he described as a “grave concern”, as people make “reckless attempts to reach the UK in unsafe boats and treacherous conditions”.

“It is vital we strike a balance between protecting them and protecting our borders, ensuring we do not encourage more people to make this dangerous journey,” he added.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has said the UK’s armed forces “stand ready” if needed to prevent further crossings.

The Immigration Services Union, which represents Border Force staff, has said the two ageing Cutters available for patrols are “woefully inadequate”.

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Video: Why are so many migrants coming from Iran?

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned that more “highly dangerous” attempts by migrants to reach the UK are likely.

Tackling organised criminal gangs behind attempted Channel crossings is an “operational priority” for the NCA, who are working with their French counterparts.

Mr Javid spoke to French interior minister Christopher Castaner by telephone on Sunday. The latter wrote on Twitter: “In touch with my British counterpart Sajid Javid.

“We are co-ordinating to strengthen our actions to combat Channel crossings undertaken by certain irregular migrants on small boats, at peril of their lives.”

Mr Javid is keeping the number of Border Force vessels patrolling the Channel under review.

Border officials with suspected migrants on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent
Image: The men have been transferred to immigration officials for processing Pic: Lewis and Chris Morris

Immigration minister Caroline Nokes visited Dover on Saturday, but suggested deploying more resources could in fact prompt further attempted crossings.

She said: “It is feasible that were we to put additional craft (out) they might act as a magnet – encouraging people to make a perilous crossing.”

A Border Force official with suspected migrants on the beach at Kingsdown, Kent
Image: Each of the men was given a medical assessment. Pic: Lewis and Chris Morris

Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has criticised Mr Javid for a “flawed” response to attempted migrant crossings.

She wrote in the Sunday Mirror: “He has still to explain exactly how the government plans to handle these mass criminal operations in British waters.

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“The Home Office’s flawed strategy has been to focus on deterring refugees, thinking that the issues in the Mediterranean would never reach our shores.

“While the Tories wax lyrical about control of our borders and being tough on security, they cannot seem to get a grip on criminal smugglers operating on a few hundred miles of coastline, in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world.”

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