Illegal Entries Rose Even As Global Travel Was Restricted During Pandemic


Asylum, Enforcement, Legal Matters, Policy

The government has detailed its proposals for tackling abuse of the asylum system in a new policy statement issued late last month.

It includes news that nearly 50,000 people who were detected having illegally arrived in the UK by various means (see below and Home Office policy statement, March 2021).

The document confirms that the number of illegal entrants detected in the UK increased from 13,500 in 2018, to 16,500 in 2020 despite global travel being severely restricted during the pandemic (see graph below) and that clandestine entry is the common mode of entry for asylum claimants. Of course, one of the reasons for the rise in 2020 was the massively increased number of illegal Channel crossings in small boats (they were 29 times higher than in 2018 – see our Channel Tracking Station).

Figure 2 below shows that while entries via illegal air arrival and lorry declined during 2020, illegal Channel boat crossings rose by a significant margin. The question is: What will happen once the usual travel routes re-open in the wake of the pandemic if illegal Channel crossings in boats continue to rise (as our Tracker reveals, in January to March 2021 they have been double the number that we saw during the same period of 2020).

Figure 1: Detected illegal arrivals by mode of entry (Source: Home Office policy statement, March 2021, p. 7).

Figure 2: Different methods of illegal entry 2019 / 2020 (Source: Home Office policy statement, March 2021, p. 7).

8th April 2021

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