Only 0.3% of migrants arrested for crossing the Channel under ‘cruel and senseless’ law

Only 0.3 percent of migrants have been arrested for crossing the Channel after the government passed a “senseless and cruel” law that made them illegal. UKTN can reveal.

Being intercepted at sea while traveling to make an asylum application was not a crime until June, when it became an offense to arrive in British waters without authorization.

While supporting the bill in parliament, Priti Patel told MPs that the measure would “discourage illegal entry”, but the number of crossings has continued to climb to new records.

Recently reappointed Home Secretary Suella Braverman has pledged to address the issue, while Rishi Sunak vowed during his leadership campaign that: “Boat after boatload of illegal migrants … must stop and if I become your prime minister, it will stop.”

Opponents of the government’s approach argue that asylum seekers should not be criminalized for crossing the Channel and that the UK should provide more safe and legal alternatives.

Ministers have repeatedly described asylum seekers on boats as “illegal migrants” or “economic migrants”, but officials questioned this week by the parliamentary interior committee admitted that 85 percent of the approved applications from 2021 had been granted.

Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrats’ home affairs spokesman, said the government should provide protection “rather than closing safe routes and enacting senseless cruel laws”.

He told UKTN“Obviously, the Conservatives’ new laws are not only heartless and expensive, they are also totally unworkable.

“We need to stop the dangerous Channel Crossings and tackle the evil smuggling and people smuggling gangs, but everything this government has done has only made the problem worse.

“It is time the Home Secretary accepts the evidence that the best way to prevent refugees from attempting these dangerous journeys – and keep them out of the hands of criminal gangs – is to provide safe and legal routes to the sanctuary. “

Former Interior Minister Priti Patel said the policy would “deter illegal entry”

(PA wire)

Figures obtained by UKTN show that 90 people were arrested for illegal entry during a period when nearly 26,000 migrants arrived by small boats.

The interior ministry said 69 arrests were also made for facilitating the crossing of dinghies, which carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment since the new laws came into effect on June 28.

Defense Ministry figures show that at least 576 boats have since reached England, meaning that up to 12 percent of ships have had an alleged facilitator arrested.

The law has previously been used against asylum seekers who sent the boats they traveled on to England despite not being part of smuggling gangs and in some cases being threatened or forced into the role.

Home Office figures show there have also been 29 arrests for facilitating lorry journeys, 30 for entering Britain in violation of deportation orders and three for exceeding the length of stay on visas under Nationality and Borders Act.

The Nationality and Borders Act drew protests

(Getty Images)

Parts of the bill were opposed by the House of Lords, which repeatedly tried to remove the broadening of illegal entry and won a government promise that it would only be used in “outrageous” cases.

Home Secretary Baroness Williams said in April this would include “migrants who endanger themselves or others” or “cause serious disruption to services such as ferry routes or the Channel Tunnel”.

Last year, Ms Patel told parliament that the package of laws would “discourage illegal entry into the UK and, most importantly, break the business model of the smuggling gangs and protect the lives of those they put at risk”.

Channel crossings have continued to soar to new records, with more than 38,000 migrants arriving in small boats so far this year and more than nine in ten seeking asylum.

The numbers show no signs of slowing down despite a range of policies the government claimed would act as a deterrent, including the Rwanda deal, Royal Navy patrols, advertising campaigns and the threat of pushbacks at sea.

The Joint Immigrant Welfare Council accused the government of launching a “wholesale attack” on refugees’ rights and that asylum seekers should not be criminalized for crossing the Channel.

Suella Braverman Returns Home Secretary After Rishi Sunak Reappoints Her

(PA wire)

Caitlin Boswell, policy and advocacy manager, said: “Their punitive approach puts refugees through hellish legal turmoil and as these numbers show, does nothing to prevent dangerous crossings.

“Their broad efforts to criminalize so many for boat control are flawed and dangerous – we know that most of the people who have been driving boats here are victims, not exploiters, and have been forced into this role by smugglers.”

The charity Detention Action said the government was using criminal acts as “another blunt tool” for complex migration issues.

“Recent statistics show that the majority of people crossing the Channel are seeking asylum and are likely to be recognized as refugees,” added Deputy Director James Wilson.

“Again, this administration has wasted time and resources on policies it cannot enforce when it could have processed asylum applications and created safer, alternative routes.”

The Interior Ministry defended its approach, saying there was “not one solution” and that it is using “every means at our disposal to deter illegal migration”.

“Our Nationality and Borders Act is beginning to break this exploitative business model, with more than 200 people arrested since it became law,” a spokesperson added.

“We work tirelessly to crack down on these evil smugglers who risk the lives of vulnerable people for profit, while continuing to support those in real need.”

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