An RNLI crew was blocked from going on a call in Hastings by people who said they did not want any more migrants being rescued, witnesses and a spokesperson for the charity have alleged.
The lifeboat was eventually able to launch, following the dispute.
Caller Zoe told James O’Brien on LBC Radio about the incident on Thursday. She said: “On Saturday my boyfriend and I were just on the beach and we heard the lifeboat station opening up and thought ‘oh they have a call’ and started watching.
“There was a group of people pulled up, gutting fish on the shore, and as the boat station opened up we heard the people start shouting things like ‘don’t bring any more of those home, we’re full up’, ‘that’s why we stopped our donations’, and that kind of really horrible stuff.
“It was really upsetting, and you could hear the hatred in their voice”, she said.
Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter
“The lifeboat crew pulled the boat out and were going to go into the water and some of the people deliberately came out with their buckets and stood directly in the line of the boat so the boat couldn’t be put in the water.”
“The police were called, I’ve got video of it.”
It comes after 27 people died by drowning last week after a small boat capsized in the Channel on the way to Britain. The incident triggered debates about the UK’s strict immigration system and the role of people smugglers who facilitate the dangerous crossings.
The Hastings incident has since been confirmed by the charity. “We can confirm an incident was reported to the police,” an RNLI spokesperson told LBC.
“The lifeboat was able to launch and the station remains on service.”
Meanwhile, in a statement, Sussex Police said: “Just after 4pm on Saturday, November 20, police were made aware of reports of a disturbance near to the Hastings RNLI Lifeboat Station.
“A police officer attended the scene while also being supported by colleagues monitoring the situation on CCTV.
“No arrests were made.”
People were outraged by the story:
Indy100 has contacted the RNLI to comment on this story.
A spokesperson said: “The RNLI shares beach space with numerous other organisations, including commercial businesses, emergency services and fishing vessels which means occasionally we may need to adjust our launching position. We continue to work closely with all organisations to ensure lifeboats are launched as quickly as possible.”