Twenty-four traffickers convicted so far this year, immigration minister reveals
Government quizzed over English Channel migrant crossings after nearly 1,500 people made dangerous journey in August alone
Twenty-four people have been convicted or jailed so far this year for facilitating illegal immigration, a Home Office minister has revealed.
Immigration minister Chris Philp made the announcement in response to an urgent question about small boat crossings over the English Channel, though it was not clear if all the convictions were related to these crossings from France to the UK.
Philp told MPs in the House of Commons: “The majority of these crossings are facilitated by ruthless criminal gangs who make money from exploiting migrants who are desperate to come here.
“We’re working with the National Crime Agency to go after those who profit from such misery. Already this year 24 people have been convicted and jailed for facilitating illegal immigration.”
In August alone, nearly 1,500 migrants arrived in the UK on small boats, compared to 94 in January. Thirty-four people who attempted to cross the Channel on Wednesday were picked up by the RNLI, Philp added.
He said the increase in recent months is “completely unacceptable”.
Philp also pointed to the dangers of the small boat crossings as he referred to 28-year-old Abdulfatah Hamdallah, who died in the water near Calais last month.
Labour’s shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds accused the government of “a lack of compassion and a lack of competence”.
“What we need now are solutions, not empty headlines trying to sound tough. I have deep concerns that the government in recent weeks, through talking of deploying the Navy and the RAF, have tried to militarise a solution where lives are at risk.
“Ultimately the sad truth is that people are fleeing their homes as a result of poverty, war and persecution.”
Philp, saying the government has provided nearly 20,000 resettlement places since 2015, countered: “This government certainly needs no lessons in compassion. Our asylum system is extremely compassionate, extremely generous and those numbers speak for themselves.”