UK ‘to help crack down’ on people traffickers in North Africa

Immigration Minister will travel to North Africa and Europe to discuss organised immigration crime

Migrants are taken to shore after being intercepted by the Libyan coastguard on the Mediterranean Sea, in Garaboli, Libya. AP
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People-smuggling gangs in North African countries will be broken by UK police officers working alongside security forces, it has been reported.

National Crime Agency officers will join nations in the region in their efforts to stop the people traffickers, The Times newspaper reported.

The Italian government has predicted that up to 400,000 migrants will seek to travel to Europe through Italy this summer.

A record numbers of people crossed the English Channel last year in small boats.

Fewer than 7,000 have been detected making the journey so far in 2023, the latest Home Office figures show.

British Minister of State for Immigration, Robert Jenrick, will travel to North Africa and Europe this week to discuss with international partners “the shared global challenge of organised immigration crime”.

The NCA and the Home Office have been contacted for comment.

UK government unveils 'robust' bill to stop migrant Channel crossings - in pictures

Mr Jenrick will visit Algeria, Tunisia, Italy and France as the Home Office launches an advertising campaign aimed at deterring Albanians from arriving in the UK in small boats.

The drive, which will run on Facebook and Instagram from next week, will send the message that people “face being detained and removed” if they make the journey.

The campaign will also aim to “bust the myths of organised crime gangs” who use social media to encourage people to take dangerous routes to the UK, the Home Office said.

“Evil criminal gangs do not care about the safety of the people they smuggle across the Channel and have no qualms about peddling lies online, even putting children at risk," an office spokesman said.

How is Europe clamping down on people who help refugees? - video

How is Europe clamping down on people who help refugees?

How is Europe clamping down on people who help refugees?

Opposition critics and charities have called the campaign a “gimmick”, with Labour accusing the government of “tinkering at the edges” of an asylum system “in chaos”.

The Home Office would not say how much the publicity drive is expected to cost.

The government’s Illegal Migration Bill aims to send asylum seekers who arrive in Britain by unauthorised routes back home or to a third country, such as Rwanda.

Ministers also hope the legislation will cut the daily £5.5 million ($6.8 million) cost of housing migrants who make it to the UK.

The Bill, currently in the House of Lords, has been attacked by critics including the Archbishop of Canterbury, who say it is unworkable and morally unacceptable.

Updated: May 28, 2023, 11:36 PM