To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what recent steps is her Department has taken to tackle illegal migrant trafficking.
1 February 2022
- The Government stands resolute in its commitment to tackle Organised Immigration Crime (OIC). Migrants are easy victims for Organised Criminal Groups (OCGs) who exploit desperation by offering services in exchange for money, labour, or sexual acts. In the closely related crimes of people smuggling and human trafficking, we bear down on the OCGs who facilitate illegal travel to the UK and who exploit vulnerable migrants, often treating them as commodities and knowingly putting people in life-threatening situations.
- Tackling people smuggling of all types is a priority for Immigration Enforcement, working through its international network upstream as well as conducting OIC investigations within the UK. Additionally, the dedicated multi-agency OIC Taskforce, led by the National Crime Agency, is committed to dismantling OCGs engaged in immigration crime internationally. The Taskforce is active in 17 countries worldwide, and its activities include supporting judicial and intelligence capacity building in source and transit countries, and intelligence sharing in key near Europe countries.
- The tragedy in the Channel last November demonstrates the high risk routes OCGs facilitate, endangering migrants’ lives at sea. In response to this increasing threat, the NCA, Home Office, Ministry of Defence and UK police forces have collaborated with French counterparts to tackle the criminals behind the majority of these crossing attempts and protect lives at sea. Our joint efforts are resulting in continued arrests and prosecutions of these criminals, so that we deter, disrupt and dismantle the networks responsible for facilitating many of these crossings.
- We also share information about criminality around small boats between agencies. This includes the Joint Intelligence Cell in France and the international networks of both the NCA and the Home Office. The Joint Intelligence Centre has since July 2020 taken down 17 small boat OCGs and secured over 400 arrests – taking the criminals behind these crossings off the streets. Our cooperation with the French has also prevented more than 23,000 migrant attempts.
- We have also provided continued funding of £2.66m this financial year to support the police to improve the response to modern slavery, build capability to deal with OIC and strengthen the criminal justice response through the Modern Slavery and OIC Unit.
- Additional to these ongoing activities, in recent months we have:
Concluded a ministerially endorsed voluntary Action Plan between NCA and social media companies to enhance joint activity to tackle content advertising illegal OIC services on online platforms, including content relating to small boat crossings.
Continued to pursue those involved in the financial flows that support people smuggling activity, using criminal powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 to seek prosecution of money laundering offences. In March 2021, the Government published the New Plan for Immigration containing provisions to establish legislation to deter illegal entry into the UK, thereby breaking the business model of criminal people smuggling networks and protecting the lives of those they endanger. In July 2021, the Government introduced this legislation through the Nationality and Borders Bill.
o Announced our review of the 2014 Modern Slavery Strategy to build on the progress we have made to date, adapt our approach to the evolving nature of these terrible crimes, and continue our leadership in tackling modern slavery.