Update on tackling illegal migration

Home Office written statement – made am ar 21 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Minister of State (Minister for Illegal Migration)

The Government’s number one priority is keeping the UK safe and our border secure. Illegal migration reduces our capability and capacity to help those who most need our support. It puts lives in danger by placing vulnerable people into the hands of smugglers.

We are tackling the evil people-smuggling gangs behind the deadly small boats crossings. We are utilising a range of activity; legislative, operational, and diplomatic. I want to provide an update on key operational lines of effort where we are delivering on our promise to tackle illegal migration.

So far this year we have already returned over 10,000 people who were in the UK illegally. (As of 19 May, provisional data shows 10,789 returns in 2024). This is over 2,000 more returns than the same point last year. This includes the removal of 1,708 Foreign National Offenders from the UK, which is over 400 more than the same point in 2023.

Returning people with no right to be here is only one part of our plan and we continue to deliver on wider enforcement action.

The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 gave the government new powers to tackle criminality, secure our borders and deter people from making dangerous journeys to the UK. Provisional data shows that:

  • The Home Office Immigration Enforcement Criminal & Financial Investigation teams have arrested over 1,000 persons in connection with various offences under the Act.
  • Of these, over 750 have been charged and over 540 have been convicted, resulting to date in over 460 years sentencing in total.
  • This includes the arrest of over 190 individuals identified as small boat pilots. Of these, over 160 have been charged and over 110 have been convicted, resulting in over 75 years in sentencing in total.

In 2023, the NCA conducted the biggest ever international operation targeting networks suspected of using small boats for people smuggling with 136 boats and 45 outboard engines seized. In total, over the last year over 352 boats and 113 engines have been seized by the NCA and international partners.

This comes as an additional £25 million is given to the National Crime Agency to sustain – and scale up – these efforts to disrupt people smugglers and their operations.

The Government doubled the funding available to the National Crime Agency in 2023 to prevent the supply of boats and engines.

Our work across all of these fronts will continue to stop the boats and tackle illegal migration and all of the harms it causes.

Official Statistics:

The Home Office regularly publishes data on immigration on gov.uk (Migration statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)). Quarterly statistics can be found in the Immigration system statistics quarterly release - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and Irregular migration to the UK statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) releases; the next update to these publications will be on 23 May 2024.

Additional data is available in the Migration transparency data - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and Statistics relating to Illegal Migration - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)