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Home Secretary: op-ed on small boats

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Ministerial opinion

The Home Secretary has written for KentOnline about her determination to put a stop to the illegal gangs of people smugglers who are risking the lives of others by facilitating Channel crossings.

The gangs facilitating illegal crossings of the Channel are criminals, ruthless people smugglers putting the lives of others at risk.

The numbers that we saw this week are telling of the determination of these despicable gangs to exploit vulnerable people, often children. But I have been clear in my determination to put a stop to them.

It is a determination shared by those operating on the frontline who I visited in Dover on 5 June. Together, we have been looking at the work already under way and the next steps that need to be taken.

This is work that is of huge significance to the readers of KentOnline, who have seen events unfolding on their doorsteps.

It is an international effort.

I have been working closely with the French to make this happen and progress has been made. To put it simply, the French want this problem to end as much as we do and we now have round the clock coverage on the northern French beaches. Over 1,100 migrants were arrested in France in the first quarter of the year - three times more than last year.

In the UK, the National Crime Agency and operational partners are dismantling the criminal gangs who trade in people smuggling. In 2019, Immigration Enforcement officers made 259 arrests and secured 101 convictions for people smuggling. They also carried out 404 disruptions against organised crime gangs and individuals engaged in organised people smuggling. 19 people smugglers have already been convicted and put behind bars this year.

More investigations are underway and the criminals perpetrating these heinous crimes should be under no illusion - we will catch and prosecute them.

But despite all of this ongoing work, smugglers continue to gamble with lives and boats are still reaching UK shores.

That is why we are stepping up our work again and developing new solutions.

With UK backing, more forces will be deployed on the French coast and we will share more intelligence to root out the criminals behind the crossings.

I am absolutely determined to get this right. I understand the concerns of KentOnline readers, who have seen desperate men, women and children putting themselves in grave danger to cross the Channel.

You do not want this to continue and neither do I.

Our mission is ongoing and evolving, and we will explore all options. I will do everything I can to stop these boats.

If new tactics are necessary, we will deploy them. And if gangs continue to endanger lives, we will bring them to justice.

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