A common question from members of the public is: “How many people are convicted of people’s smuggling in the UK?”
There is no specific criminal offence of “people smuggling” on the UK statute books, but the Home Office holds information on the number of charges and convictions as a result of action by Immigration Enforcement officers to combat those facilitating illegal entry, an offence under section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971.
In the last three years (2018, 2019 and 2020 combined), there were just 311 charges and 292 convictions for facilitating illegal entry. For more, see this Freedom of Information release by the Home Office.
Yet now a Court of Appeal judgment has made it even harder for the authorities to penalise people for facilitating illegal immigration.
Earlier this month, four Iranian men who crossed the English Channel in small boats had their convictions for immigration offences quashed.
The Court of Appeal said it had not been proven they intended to enter the UK illegally.
This despite the fact that the men were intercepted by Border Force officials on separate crossings in 2019 and 2020 and were all convicted separately.
They had all piloted inflatable boats in crossings organised by smugglers. Judges decided that the case hinged on whether the men intended to land illegally in the UK, outside of a port area.
And, despite the fact that one of the men (Iranian national Samyar Bani) had accepted that he decided to cross the channel on a boat to avoid going through a port, the judges vacated his conviction in a move that will likely have huge repercussions for encouraging more and more people to risk lives in needless and deadly trips.
Here is the transcript of the interview shortly after Mr Bani’s arrival in the UK.
Q: I’m suggesting that you decided to cross the channel on a
boat to avoid going through a port either when you disembarked
or left France or when you entered the UK.
Q: You accept that.
Following a similar case in April 2021 the Crown Prosecution Service issued new rules meaning that asylum seekers would not be charged for steering boats if the “sole intention is to be intercepted and brought into port for asylum claims to be made.”
Yet the facts of this case revealed that Bani accepted he wished to avoid going through a port.
One particularly absurd sentence in the judgment by the Court of Appeal judges Lord Justice Edis, Mrs Justice May and Sir Nicholas Blake revealed just how out-of-touch those in positions of power are with the tens of millions of people in this country who want to see basic immigration control and border security: “If the facilitator knows the only way in which the migrant intends to enter the United Kingdom is being brought ashore by UK Border Force, then he will not be committing an offence.”
This sentence just adds fuel to the suspicion amongst Border Force personnel themselves (revealed in a 2020 report by the borders watchdog) that illegal immigration is being encouraged in record numbers because of a ‘taxi service’ that is being operated by the Border Force itself.
In this sense, the ‘woker’ elements of the Border Force (with the help of judges) have normalised and legitimised illegal and dangerous journeys in increasing numbers – helping contribute to the tragic loss of life amongst those attempting the journey and to the threat to children and public safety that rocketing asylum abuse represents.
This is a national scandal.
Yet it is not really a surprise that such a situation would occur when it is revealed that an outgoing boss of the UK immigration department’s Border Force, Paul Lincoln, said that Britain’s borders are a pain in the a*** (see media report).
Thankfully, the Nationality and Borders Bill that is passing through Parliament will amend the law – hopefully in a way which ensures that it is easier for the authorities to prosecute and convict vile people smugglers and those who facilitate and organise needless and illegal journeys by failed asylum claimants to the UK from other safe places.