An Update on Small Boat Crossings

This week the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak visited the Kent coast to meet with members of the Border Force team at Dover. Stopping illegal migration from small boat crossings in the Channel is one of the top priorities for the government. We must bring to an end these dangerous journeys that have led to loss of life as well as compromising our border security. To achieve this the government has invested in monitoring small boat crossings in the Channel, intelligence led policing in co-operation with the authorities in France to identify criminal gangs involved with people smuggling, and support for the authorities on the French coast to prevent the crossings taking place. Thanks to this investment the deployment of French officers to patrol French beaches will increase this year by 40%.

So far in 2023 we have seen evidence that these policies are starting to make an impact. In the five months from January to May this year, the number of people arriving in this country as a result of crossing the Channel in a small boat, has fallen by just over twenty percent, compared to the same time period in 2022. Last year people from Albania accounted for nearly 30% of small boat arrivals, and most of them (85%) applied for asylum. Albania is a safe country, one whose application to join the European Union has been accepted, and is currently engaged in accession negotiations with the European institutions. The UK has an agreement with Albania that recognises their status as a safe country, and we have created a new dedicated unit to speed up the processing of Albanian cases. Since this was announced in December, we have returned over 1800 Albanians to their home country. As well as trying to stop the small boat crossings, we also need to improve the time it takes to make a decision once someone has claimed asylum in the UK. Too many people are waiting too long for their cases to be heard. To improve this the government has doubled the number of decision makers working on cases and will double that number again in order to clear the backlog. In the first five months of this year the number of undecided cases has fallen by 16,000.

In parliament we are also passing new legislation which will give greater powers to the authorities to act against illegal migration. The importance of having effective legislation was demonstrated in April this year, when as a result of an international investigation, involving the UK’s National Crime Agency, nine members of an Afghan criminal gang were sentenced by a court in Paris for immigration and organised crime offences, to jail terms totalling twenty-one years. The UK High Court has also determined that it is lawful for the government to process some asylum cases in Rwanda and we would expect this to commence this year. The government is also determined to end the use of hotels for asylum accommodation, by reducing the demand for places, and having more alternative centres for accommodation, including ships and barges designed to house hundreds of people each, which will be moored off the coast.

We are determined to do all we can to stop the small boat crossings.

Copyright 2021 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Stephen James for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP


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