Priti Patel unveils plan to cut number of Albanian migrant arrivals

Albanian police will work on the Kent coast to help process migrants and pass on information

Migrants are escorted into Dover by a member of the UK military after being rescued while attempting to cross the English Channel. Reuters
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Home Secretary Priti Patel has struck a deal with the Albanian government in which members of its law enforcement agencies will come to the UK to observe migrant arrivals and pass on intelligence in a bid to tackle Channel crossings.

Under the new plan, Albanian officers will be taken to the Kent coast to be present while migrants are processed and assist UK authorities with information, the Home Office said.

Officials have yet to confirm when the new arrangement could take effect.

The move comes amid reports of growing numbers of people from the south-eastern European country making the journey from France.

Government officials believe about 60 per cent of migrants making the crossing each day now are Albanian, although figures fluctuate, the PA news agency reported.

Ms Patel and Bledi Cuci, Albania’s minister for interior affairs, also pledged to speed up removals of Albanians with no right to be in the UK from next week, when they discussed the situation on Tuesday night.

Checks on migrants arriving by boat who are suspected of being Albanian will be fast-tracked, it is understood.

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Advertisements in Albanian on Facebook and Instagram were also launched on Wednesday to try to deter people from making the journey.

The campaign will focus on those in specific regions in northern France and Belgium “who meet certain criteria, such as being away from home”, the Home Office said.

Officials are thought to be still thrashing out the finer details of the arrangement, so little further information on how it will work is currently available.

The Home Office said that Albania is a “safe and prosperous country” and many citizens “are travelling through multiple countries to make the journey to the UK” before making “spurious asylum claims when they arrive”.

Fewer than 1,000 Albanian offenders have been deported from the UK since a removals agreement was signed last year.

“Large numbers of Albanians are being sold lies by ruthless people smugglers and vicious organised crime gangs, leading them to take treacherous journeys in flimsy boats to the UK,” said Ms Patel.

“This abuse of our immigration system and people risking their lives cannot go on.

“Thanks to our excellent levels of co-operation with Albania, we will take every opportunity to speed up removals of Albanians with no right to be in the UK.”

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“We discourage these illegal and dangerous practices,” said Mr Cuci.

“The home secretary and I also discussed midterm solutions to provide better opportunities for young people, and means of legal migration that enables skilled professionals and labour access to the UK.”

Updated: August 25, 2022, 6:55 AM
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