People smuggling gangs are offering migrants package deals of up to three separate attempts to enter Britain illegally, a new report from the UK’s Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has revealed.
It is thought traffickers are advising would-be asylum seekers to agree to a prompt removal from Britain if they are caught by customs officers while trying to enter the country, allowing them to make further attempts to get into the UK undetected at a later date.
The report notes that a large number of migrants stopped while attempting to enter Britain via eastern ports failed to claim asylum last year.
“Border Force officers assumed that this was because these individuals would make further attempts to enter the UK clandestinely, drawn by the ‘pull factor’ of access to paid work in the ‘shadow economy’,” the report said
“Officers believed rumours to the effect that the fee charged by criminal gangs covered three facilitated attempts to enter clandestinely.”
Many young male migrants are attracted to the UK by opportunities to secure employment in the black economy.
The report also highlighted security weaknesses at ports across the east coast of Britain, noting that these could be exploited by people trafficking gangs, particularly after the closure of the Calais Jungle camp in October last year.
Chief Inspector David Bolt’s report said Border Force officers had failed to visit around half of all sea ports on the east coast of England and Scotland for more than a year, meaning there was not an effective deterrent in place at any of these locations for anybody tempted to smuggle people or contraband into the country.
“The inspection found that Border Force, given the practicalities, was generally efficient and effective in managing the fixed immigration control points at the major seaports, and in dealing on an intelligence-led basis with vehicle and freight arrivals,” Bolt said.
“By contrast, coverage of smaller ports, harbours and marinas was poor.
“The numbers of clandestine arrivals identified by Border Force at east coast ports had indeed increased, and Border Force was dealing appropriately with individuals, whether they claimed asylum or agreed to be removed immediately.
“The overall sense was that Border Force was stretched, in some instances too thinly, but coping.”
Separately, another report has accused the UK government of leaving vulnerable lone migrant children at the mercy of people smugglers.
The assessment, based on an inquiry led by Baroness Butler-Sloss and former Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart, claims British MPs have done “as little as legally possible” to help unaccompanied minors, forcing them to turn to traffickers as they attempt to reach the UK.
“These children, who are not yet here, are facing daily risks and dangers which simply would not be tolerated if they were visible to us all,” Butler-Sloss and Mactaggart write in a forward to the report.