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Priti Patel Warned 'Limited Evidence' Backs Efficacy of New Clampdown on Migrant Channel Crossings

© REUTERS / PETER NICHOLLSMigrants rescued from the English Channel are brought into Dover on the Border Force Catamaran Rescue Boat, BF Hurricane, Britain, September 8, 2021
Migrants rescued from the English Channel are brought into Dover on the Border Force Catamaran Rescue Boat, BF Hurricane, Britain, September 8, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2021
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Approximately 13,000 illegal migrants have already crossed the Channel to reach Britain’s shores so far this year, up from the 8,417 who ventured on the perilous journey in 2020, with the UK government vowing to stem the flow and tackle the "broken asylum system".
The efficacy of Priti Patel’s much-touted new policy to clamp down on illegal migrant crossings across the Channel has been put in doubt by a recent assessment from her own department, according to the Times.
The UK Home Secretary had vowed that new measures, outlined in the 87-page Nationality and Borders Bill, which has passed its second reading in the House of Commons, would "break the business model" of people-trafficking gangs that arrange illegal crossings to the UK.
© AFP 2021 / GLYN KIRKUK Border Force officers help migrants, believed to have been picked up from boats in the Channel, disembark from Coastal patrol vessel "HMC Speedwell", in the port of Dover, on the south-east coast of England on August 9, 2020. - The British government on Sunday appointed a former marine to lead efforts to tackle illegal migration in the Channel ahead of talks with France on how to stop the dangerous crossings. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
UK Border Force officers help migrants, believed to have been picked up from boats in the Channel, disembark from Coastal patrol vessel HMC Speedwell, in the port of Dover, on the south-east coast of England on August 9, 2020. - The British government on Sunday appointed a former marine to lead efforts to tackle illegal migration in the Channel ahead of talks with France on how to stop the dangerous crossings. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2021
UK Border Force officers help migrants, believed to have been picked up from boats in the Channel, disembark from Coastal patrol vessel "HMC Speedwell", in the port of Dover, on the south-east coast of England on August 9, 2020. - The British government on Sunday appointed a former marine to lead efforts to tackle illegal migration in the Channel ahead of talks with France on how to stop the dangerous crossings. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)
However, an impact assessment of the Bill carried out by the Home Office, and first cited by The Times stated:
“Deploying these measures does advance the legitimate aim of encouraging asylum seekers to claim in the first safe country they reach and not undertaking dangerous journeys facilitated by smugglers to get to the UK, though evidence supporting the effectiveness of this approach is limited.”
The assessment warned that the new measures might prompt those desperate to enter Britain to seek out ever-more dangerous ways to reach their desired destination.
“There is a risk that increased security and deterrence could encourage these cohorts to attempt riskier means of entering the UK,” said the Home Office.

‘Asylum Shopping'

Around 13,000 people have already crossed the Channel to reach Britain so far this year, according to data compiled by the PA news agency, compared with 8,417 seized in all 2020. In an attempt to stem the flow of illegals, the Home Office has announced that those undertaking the Channel crossing, as well as people-smugglers, will face tougher punishments.
The new legislation would make it a criminal offence to enter the UK without permission, with the maximum sentence rising from six months imprisonment to four years and a maximum of a life sentence for convicted people smugglers - up from the present limit of 14 years.
© AFP 2021 / BEN STANSALLUK Border Force officials travel in a RIB with migrants picked up at sea whilst Crossing the English Channel, as they arrive at the Marina in Dover, southeast England on August 15, 2020
UK Border Force officials travel in a RIB with migrants picked up at sea whilst Crossing the English Channel, as they arrive at the Marina in Dover, southeast England on August 15, 2020 - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2021
UK Border Force officials travel in a RIB with migrants picked up at sea whilst Crossing the English Channel, as they arrive at the Marina in Dover, southeast England on August 15, 2020
Furthermore, a new clause will broaden the offence of arriving unlawfully to encompass arrival, as well as entry into the UK. According to the UK Home Office, the measures are aimed at cracking down on “asylum shopping”, when some migrants “pick the UK as a preferred destination over others”.
© REUTERS / JESSICA TAYLORParliament session at the House of Commons in London
Parliament session at the House of Commons in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.09.2021
Parliament session at the House of Commons in London
According to the Home Office, some of these individuals could have claimed asylum at an earlier stage in their journey across Europe. The Nationality and Borders Bill also grants powers for asylum claims to be processed outside the UK, in offshore centres.
The measures have been criticised by more than 250 refugee charities and campaign groups as "extreme and nasty". Chief executive of the Refugee Council, Enver Solomon, slammed the new "anti-refugee bill" and accused the Home Office of "choosing to not only turn away those in need of safety but also treat them as criminals".
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