dpa/GNA – The British government is considering a crackdown on people smugglers who bring undocumented migrants across the English Channel, says Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“It is outrageous that the gangsters, the people smugglers, these thugs, are still putting people’s lives at risks in the way that they are, taking money to help people cross the Channel in unseaworthy vessels, risking their lives,” he told reporters on Monday, according to British news agency PA Media.
“What we are going to do is to absolutely, ruthlessly stiffen the sentences for anybody who is involved in this kind of people smuggling and trafficking human beings across the Channel.”
He also added that the British government was working with the French authorities to tackle the issue.
It comes after the British Home Secretary was reportedly planning to raise the sentence for people smuggling in Britain to life imprisonment.
The average length of imprisonment for the offence is three years – with the maximum sentence being 14 years – but Patel wants to upgrade the maximum term to life, according to a report in the British newspaper, The Times, on Monday.
A government source reportedly told the newspaper there were no plans for a minimum mandatory sentence, but added: “If you put it up at the top end, the hope is those currently getting three or four years now will be significantly increased.”
According to Home Office statistics, 14,773 people were placed in immigration detention – where they are detained while they wait for permission to enter Britain or before they are deported – last year.
They added that while the figures were partly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a general downward trend since 2015 of the number of people entering detention in Britain. In that year, it peaked at more than 32,000.
Iranians made up the greatest group in detention last year, followed by Albanians.
Most nationalities saw a drop in the number of people being detained, but the number of Eritreans, Sudanese and Syrians increased.