25 August 2022

Priti Patel unveils plan to curb numbers of Albanians in migrant crossings

25 August 2022

Albanian police could be brought to the UK to observe migrant arrivals and pass on intelligence in a bid to tackle Channel crossings.

The plan, part of a deal struck between Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Albanian government, may see officers taken to the Kent coast to be present while migrants are processed and assist UK authorities with information, the Home Office said.

But it is yet to be confirmed when this 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 around 60% of migrants making the crossing each day now are Albanian, although figures fluctuate, the PA news agency understands.

Ms Patel and Bledi Çuçi, 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.

Home Secretary Priti Patel struck the deal with the Albanian government (Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

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

The campaign will target those in specific regions in northern France and Belgium and “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.

According to the Home Office, Albania is a “safe and prosperous country” and many nationals “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.

Ms Patel said: “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.

“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.

“I want to thank my counterpart Bledi Çuçi for the work he and his Government are doing, we are both steadfast in our commitment to stop this trend.”

The Home Office said: “The Albanian government has also offered senior law enforcement support to the UK to provide UK authorities with vital intelligence and to support processing.”

Mr Çuçi said: “We discourage these illegal and dangerous practices.

“The Home Secretary and I also discussed mid-term solutions to provide better opportunities for young people, and means of legal migration that enables skilled professionals and labour access to the UK.”

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