Priti Patel’s own department warns there is ‘limited’ evidence her tough new crackdown on migrant Channel boat crossings will work -suggesting it could push them to find even more dangerous methods of entering Britain
- Impact assessment of Nationality and Borders Bill carried out by Home Office
- Analysis showed refugees more likely to claim asylum in first country they enter
- But it admitted the evidence for ‘effectiveness’ of new approach was ‘limited’
Home Secretary Priti Patel has been warned by her own department that there is only limited evidence her tough new clampdown on cross-channel migrants will work.
An impact assessment of the Nationality and Borders Bill carried out by the Home Office found that it would encourage refugees to claim asylum in the first country they entered, rather than travelling through them to reach the UK.
But the document also warned that ‘evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach is limited’.
It also warned that the new law could force though desperate to enter Britain to find ever-more dangerous ways to cross the Channel.
In comments first reported by the Times, the assessment says: ‘There is a risk that increased security and deterrence could encourage these cohorts to attempt riskier means of entering the UK.
‘Deploying these measures does advance the legitimate aim of encouraging asylum seekers to claim in the first safe country they reach and not undertaking dangerous journeys facilitated by smugglers to get to the UK, though evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach is limited.’
Around 13,000 people have already crossed the Channel to reach Britain so far this year – eclipsing the 8,417 who made the journey in the whole of 2020. It has put pressure on the Home Secretary to stem to flow.
Priti Patel wants migrants who make the perilous crossing and the people smugglers who enable the journeys to happen to face tougher punishments
Around 13,000 people have already crossed the Channel to reach Britain so far this year – eclipsing the 8,417 who made the journey in the whole of 2020
Pictured: A graph showing the number of migrants crossing the Channel on small boats since 2019. The figure has increased each year
It adds: ‘This is consistent with the overarching policy objectives of the plan to deter illegal entry into the UK, to break the business model of people-smuggling networks and to protect the lives of those they endanger.’
The Home Office has announced migrants who make the perilous crossing and the people smugglers who enable the journeys to happen will face tougher punishments to prevent ‘asylum shopping’.
The proposed legislation will make it a criminal offence to knowingly arrive in the UK without permission, with the maximum sentence for those entering the country unlawfully rising from six months imprisonment to four years.
A clause contained in the legislation will broaden the offence of arriving unlawfully so that it encompasses arrival, as well as entry into the UK.
The move has been designed to allow those who are intercepted in UK territorial waters to be brought into the country to be prosecuted.
The Government is also proposing to increase the tariff for people smugglers, with those found guilty facing life behind bars – up from the current maximum of 14 years.
The Home Office said the sterner punishments were a bid to prevent ‘asylum shopping’, claiming that some migrants are ‘picking the UK as a preferred destination over others’ when asylum could have been claimed earlier in their journey through Europe.
A spokeswoman said: ‘We do not want to see people risking their lives using unsafe routes, and this is why we are taking steps to ensure dangerous journeys are not incentivised and taking action to target the people smugglers behind them.
‘We are determined to take every necessary step to stop the illegal crossings, control our borders, and return those who have no right to be in the UK.’
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