Unknown whether thousands of missing migrants could pose threat – Cleverly

The Home Office does not know whether the 3,500 people it has earmarked for removal to Rwanda but has lost contact with could pose a threat to the public, James Cleverly has suggested.

The Home Secretary admitted that only 2,143 out of the 5,700 people identified for deportation to the east African nation are reporting to the Home Office and can be located.

Those missing have not been assessed for whether they could be threatening to members of the public, he said, as he insisted that they “will be found by immigration enforcement officials”.

Asked whether the abscondees have been ruled to not be a potential threat, the Cabinet minister told LBC Radio: “That’s not necessarily one of the prime criteria that we are looking for.”

He denied that someone failing to report to officials has vanished from the system.

“That’s not how it works. The immigration enforcement officials, they do their investigations, they find these individuals and they remove them…

“People often abscond, we find them, we remove them. This is a very, very standard practice.”

The Government is seeking to get flights to send migrants to Rwanda off the ground by July, after the Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Act became law last month.

The Home Office faced questions over its ability to track down thousands of people it had identified for removal, after a Government document released at the end of April showed only 2,143 out of those 5,700 people “continue to report to the Home Office and can be located for detention”.

Provisional Home Office figures show more than 9,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year.

This is up 35% on this time last year, when 6,691 crossings were recorded, and a 16% rise compared to the same period in 2022 (7,801), according to PA news agency analysis of the data.

Mr Cleverly insisted that “we are starting to see the deterrent” of the Rwanda scheme as he attacked Sir Keir Starmer’s proposals to tackle cross-Channel migration.

The Labour leader on Friday pledged to expand counter-terror powers to cover people-smuggling gangs, create a new Border Security Command to co-ordinate efforts to halt the crossings, and abolish the Government’s Rwanda plan.

The Home Secretary said: “The timing of Keir Starmer’s commitment to scrap this policy, even though we are seeing it is already starting to work, is comic.”