Revealed: How illegal migrants are using WhatsApp alerts to tip each other off about British immigration raids
- They contact each other on the encrypted messaging service to raise the alarm
- Tip-offs mean they can stay one step ahead of Home Office enforcement officials
- Tactic was disclosed in report compiled by academics at the University of Oxford
- Report also exposed huge industry in fake identity papers sold by criminal gangs
Illegal immigrants have set up warning systems using WhatsApp text messages to avoid being caught, a report has revealed.
They contact each other on the encrypted messaging service to raise the alarm about immigration raids.
The tip-offs mean they can stay one step ahead of Home Office enforcement officials.
The tactic was disclosed in a report by academics at the University of Oxford’s Centre on Migration, Policy and Society.
Illegal immigrants have set up warning systems using WhatsApp text messages to avoid being caught, a report has revealed
The report also exposed the huge industry in fake identity papers sold by criminal gangs.
It also said those in Britain without permission were avoiding working in certain industries known to be targeted by officials, such as construction or kebab shops, to minimise the risk of being caught.
Former Home Office chiefs have admitted there are more than a million illegal immigrants in the UK.
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They are a mixture of people who sneaked in on the back of lorries, those who arrived on visas but never went home, foreign criminals never booted out and failed asylum seekers who have avoided deportation.
Critics warn many are earning money by working in the black market but not paying taxes, while adding to the burden on public services such as hospitals and schools.
The report described some of the methods used to evade capture. It said: ‘They set up warning systems, for example using WhatsApp messenger boards.
‘Others moved out of areas where immigration enforcement raids were observed, moved addresses under which they had previously been recorded, avoided addresses that had been raided before, avoided houses of other immigrants, hid IDs at different addresses and avoided the London Underground.’
The tip-offs mean they can stay one step ahead of Home Office enforcement officials (stock)
Some illegal immigrants bought false identity documents to try to secure a better chance of staying in the UK, finding a place to live and getting a job.
One Brazilian interviewed for the study said: ‘There is this industry of fake documents.
‘It is amazing, you can get anything you want, ID cards, passports, driver’s licence, this construction card, anything.’
The report found curbs designed to tackle illegal immigration were failing to reduce numbers.
It said the so-called ‘hostile environment’ – introduced by successive governments to make it harder for illegal immigrants to rent homes, work, open bank accounts or claim benefits – had not worked.
One immigrant told researchers: ‘Being illegal in the UK is still better than being legal in my own country’.
Lead researcher Dr Franck Duvell said: ‘Our project shows that, if there is labour market demand while labour migration restrictions are in place, irregular migration is an inevitable consequence – which potentially means that efforts to restrict low-skilled EU migration after Brexit may generate a lot more irregular immigrants.’
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘We are committed to an immigration policy which welcomes and celebrates people here legally, but which tackles illegal immigration, prevents abuse of benefits and services and removes incentives to enter and remain in the UK unlawfully.’
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