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Taking action to tackle Channel crossings

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We are seeing an unacceptable rise in illegal migrants departing from France.

The British public have had enough of seeing people die in the Channel while ruthless criminal gangs profit from their misery.

These crossings are dangerous, with overloaded boats in busy shipping lanes.

They are also unnecessary because France is a safe country and people should claim asylum there rather than risk their lives at the hands of criminal smugglers.

This is part of a global issue. There are 80 million displaced people globally but not everyone who wants to come to the UK can do so. That’s why we prioritise those most in need through our safe and legal routes.

Stopping the criminal gangs

The UK government, police, National Crime Agency and international partners are taking action at every level to take down the people smuggling gangs who are behind this surge in crossings.

  • So far in 2021 there are 94 ongoing investigations related to small boat criminality which has led to 46 arrests and 8 people being convicted.
  • Since 2020, Immigration Enforcement have achieved 65 small boat related prosecutions in the UK, totalling over 53 years in custodial sentences.
  • In its first 12 months, the Joint Intelligence Cell was involved in nearly 300 arrests relating to small boats activity in France.

Having a maritime deterrent

It is critical that we have a maritime deterrent in the Channel.

Border Force officers are authorised, trained and stand ready to use safe and legal options to stop these deadly crossings.

All operational procedures used at sea comply with and are delivered in accordance with the law.

Working with the French

It is disappointing how many migrants have managed to cross the Channel.

The French have committed to working with us to prevent 100% of crossings, but it is vital they go further and faster to achieve this and do everything possible to stop people leaving French beaches in the first place.

Our targeted efforts with the French have prevented more than 19,000 migrant attempts so far in 2021.

Our long term plan to fix the broken system

The UK Government’s New Plan for Immigration is the only credible long-term solution to fix the broken system and seeks to make this route unviable.

First published in March 2021, it has three fair but firm objectives:

  • To increase the fairness of our system so we can protect and support those in genuine need of asylum.
  • To deter illegal entry into the UK – breaking the business model of people smugglers – and protecting the lives of those they endanger.
  • To remove more easily from the UK, those with no right to be here.

At its heart is a simple principle: access to the UK’s asylum system should be based on need, not on the ability to pay people smugglers.

Anyone who arrives in the UK illegally – where they could reasonably have claimed asylum in another safe country like France – will be considered “inadmissible” to the asylum system. We will seek to return them to a safe country.

The legislation to support this plan is already making its way through Parliament and will:

  • Be tough on the people smugglers, who could face life behind bars.
  • Deter illegal entry to the UK, with maximum four years imprisonment.
  • Introduce new powers to remove asylum seekers to have their claims processed outside the UK.
  • Establish new accommodation centres to speed up the processing of claims and removal of those with no right to remain in the UK.
  • Speed up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK by streamlining the appeals and judicial process which can be used to frustrate removal.
  • Strengthen Border Force powers to stop and redirect vessels.

These reforms will take time but the Government is determined to bring lasting change to the system so that it is fair but firm.

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