AMNESTY International has said a Royal Navy block to prevent asylum seekers crossing the English Channel would be “unlawful, reckless and dangerous”.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has tasked a former Royal Marine with delivering her ambition of making the English Channel route for migrants in small boats “unviable”, after calling for naval support.

On Saturday, the Home Office formally asked defence chiefs for naval support for Border Force in the Dover Straits.

But Amnesty’s Refugee and Migrant Rights programme director Steve Valdez-Symonds believes that Patel’s approach is wrong and dangerous.

He said: “What is needed is co-operation with France to share responsibility for providing a place of safety, including the UK Government reuniting families and enabling more people to travel safely to make asylum claims in this country.

“But while ministers beat their chests, the real and immediate needs of women, men and children fleeing war and persecution are being ignored.”

More than 4000 refugees have now reached the UK in 2020 by crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Families with young children have been among hundreds of people arriving in Dover in the last few days as the political row over the crisis has intensified.

As numbers of refugees attempting the perilous sea journey continue to rise, the Government has been accused of being “increasingly chaotic” in its handling of the crisis.

Bridget Chapman, spokeswoman for the Kent Refugee Action Network, said: “The Government’s handling of this issue is becoming increasingly chaotic, with elements of sabre-rattling.”

More refugees have reached the UK yesterday with Border Force cutter Seeker roaming British waters. Up to 12 people were seen being brought ashore in Dover earlier yesterday morning aboard patrol boat Speedwell.