Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

Channel crossings could surge to record 15,000 this year as smugglers target smaller ports

Migrants arrive in UK as Patel plans tighter asylum rules

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) has flagged how criminal gangs are increasingly conducting illegal Channel crossings because of “high success rates” in targeting smaller ports. It comes as twice as many migrants have arrived in Britain this year compared to 2020.

According to the NCA, criminal gangs had also started using bigger boats to try to transport migrants into the UK.

In strategic assessment published on Tuesday, they said gangs were targeting small ports away from the busy Dover Strait.

They added: “Organised Crime Gangs (OCGs) have attempted to transport migrants into the UK using larger vessels landing at small ports away from the Dover Strait.

“Migrants transported via this method have a higher chance of being exploited by UK-based criminals than those detected by law enforcement arriving by small boat.”

So far, more than 3,100 people have arrived in the UK this year in trafficking operations.

The figures are nearly double those seen in the same period in 2020 when around 1,600 people arrived

The NCA has said this year’s figures could reach 15,000 if the current rate of migrant trafficking continues.

Last year saw a record high amount of illegal migrants enter the country, at 8,713< according to Migration Watch UK data.

It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel repeated her pledge to crackdown on the criminal trade with life sentences for smugglers and new measures to deter illegal migration.

Under her proposed changes, illegal migrants will also be denied the right to settle in the UK even if they are granted asylum.

Instead, the Home Secretary suggests those granted asylum could be eligible for “temporary protection status”, which means they will be regularly reassessed for removal from the UK, have limited family reunion rights and no access to benefits unless destitute.

Ms Patel said on Monday: “As I have said before, our asylum system is fundamentally broken.

“It is so unwieldy that the costs of the system have sky-rocketed to more than £1 billion this year. Our New Plan for Immigration is key to fixing it.”

It also comes after David Bolt, the former chief inspector of borders, warned of chronic staff shortages at ports.

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