A GROUP of "up to 38" migrants have been picked up off the Sussex coast.

A Border Control boat intercepted the dinghies near Hastings this morning.

They were caught travelling across the Channel to Kent shortly before midday, a witness said.

They were then transported to Dover.

The Argus:

Pictures from Dover showed a woman carrying a young child and holding the hand of another as Home Office officials processed the migrants.

Another photograph appeared to show some of the people wearing orange lifejackets as they were taken to shore in a Border Force rigid-inflatable boat.

A boat which appears to have been used by the migrants during their crossing was also being tugged.

The Argus:

A Home Office spokesman said the service is currently dealing with three ongoing small boat incidents off the Kent and Sussex coasts.

He said that further details would be provided once the situation has been resolved.

It is understood the migrants have been transferred onto another vessel and are being taken to safety.

It is also understood that adults and children are among the group.

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: "HM Coastguard is committed to safeguarding life around the seas and coastal areas of this country.

The Argus:

"We are only concerned with preservation of life, rescuing those in trouble and bringing them safely back to shore, where they will be handed over to the relevant partner emergency services or authorities.

"We have been assisting Border Force with two incidents off the Kent coast this morning."

The passengers of the two migrant boats have been brought aboard the HMC Seeker, a 42-metre long ship which has been used by the UK Border Agency since 2008.

At about 11am the boat was stationary in the English Channel off the coast of Dungeness in Kent, according to tracking site Marine Traffic.

At 11.30am the boat was travelling at about 15 knots in the direction of Dover.

The Argus:

At 12.30pm it had stopped in Dover.

RNLI Hastings Lifeboat Station were also called to the incident.

A spokesman said: "We were tasked to go and support a Border Force incident involving a boat with migrants on board.

"But we were stood down before we arrived on the scene.

"We were not visual.

"I believe Border Force dealt with the boats and are taking the casualties to Dover.

The Argus:

"A second boat was reported but we had returned to shore by this time."

Border Force is a law enforcement command within the Home Office.

It aims to “secure the UK border by carrying out immigration and customs controls for people and goods entering the UK”.