Hundreds of mainly young men went on the rampage on roads next to the sprawling settlement in the port town.
The riot comes just a week after the French government was ordered to improve conditions in the refugee camp, where the majority of those seeking asylum in Britain are staying.
‘The trouble started at around 11pm on Sunday evening,’ said a spokesman for the Pas de Calais prefecture. ‘Around two hundred people tried to slow down or block traffic on the road leading into Calais.’
This is a common tactic employed by the refugees, as they try and get on board lorries heading towards ferries or the Channel Tunnel.
The spokesman added: ‘These attempts went on until around one in the morning, meaning a security detachment had to deployed, and then the migrants started throwing objects at them.’
Tear gas and baton charges were used to contain the riot, with police injured by rocks and other projectiles.
One officer at the scene said 300 tear gas canisters had to be used by CRS riot squads to try and dispel the rioters.
He said ‘sixteen officers were treated for light injuries at the scene of the violence.’
Gilles Debove, of the SGP Police-Force Ouvriere union in Calais, told The Daily Telegraph: ‘It’s the first time that it’s been this violent and that we’ve unfortunately had so many colleagues injured.
‘We’re worried that if one day we have a revolt inside the camp, it will be pandemonium.’
There are currently some 6,000 refugees sleeping rough in the Pas de Calais area as they wait for their chance to get to Britain, where they will claim asylum or disappear into the black economy.
Last week the French government was ordered to improve conditions in ‘The Jungle’, where the majority of them are staying.
Judges in Lille ruled that its current state was not good enough, and thousand of pounds worth of work was needed.
This has increased fears that the camp is becoming institutionalised, and so becoming a magnet for vastly increased numbers from all over the world.
Fights are now a regular occurrence as different groups of migrants fight over routes into Britain, while people smugglers also prey on those living in the camp.
An administrative court in Lille called for immediate action to prevent ‘serious human rights violations’ highlighted by a number of humanitarian groups, including Catholic Relief Services and Doctors of the World.
Now aid groups also want to see the number of meals available increased from 2500 a day to 6000, and it wants more empty houses in the Calais area handed over to migrants.
Those living in the camp make daily attempts to get to England, either by hiding in the back of lorries boarding ferries, or breaking into the Channel Tunnel and getting aboard a train.
The Calais authorities, including mayor Natacha Bouchart, have long argued that Britain’s generous benefits system is one of the main reasons why so many want to travel there.
Ms Bourchart has called on the British to cut down on abuse, so as to prevent her town being used as a staging post to get into the UK.
Those congregating in Calais come from numerous war-torn countries, including Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea.