MIGRANTS are still crossing the English Channel under cover of darkness despite Royal Navy clippers being drafted in to stop them.

Cops were last night searching for about six people who came across in a small boat and slept underneath it to shelter from the elements.

Fisherman Jake Pearson, 31, found the inflatable boat in shrubs on a beach at about 3pm on Saturday in Folkstone, Kent.

He said: “They had come ashore and dragged it up the beach to some shrubs. The boat itself had been dragged over some barbed wire and it would take more than two people to do that.

“They turned it over and it seems they slept underneath for the night- then they must have vanished.

“There were crisp and sweet wrappers left nearby that had foreign writing on them, like they had a meal before they moved on.

“I called the Border Force and police and they spent quite a few hours looking for them. They also confirmed to me that they thought the boat was one used by migrants.

“The boat is only about ten feet long so I wouldn’t have thought you’d get more than six people in it.”

Royal Navy vessel HMS Mersey was deployed to patrol the Straits of Dover at the start of the year.

It followed the redeployment of two Border Force cutters from the Mediterranean.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “On Saturday 12 January, Border Force received a report of a small RHIB hidden in undergrowth at the Warren in Folkestone. Indications were that the vessel had been there for some time.

“The coastguard and Kent Police were informed and the vessel will be impounded by Border Force. Border Force investigations are ongoing.”

This comes after homeowners found migrants hiding in their front gardens in Kent after an empty inflatable was found on Dungeness Beach.

Seven people were detained by the Border Force following the incident, and one man was arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry to the UK.