The Daily Telegraph

Albania to share data on criminals with Border Force chiefs

Plan to crack down on migrant gangs as record numbers cross Channel

- By Charles Hymas HOME AFFAIRS EDITOR

BORDER FORCE is scrambling to secure a criminal data-sharing deal with Albania as it emerged more migrants have crossed the Channel in the first nine months of 2022 than the whole of last year.

Albania’s parliament­ary commission yesterday began work on fast-tracking a proposed deal with the UK that would enable it to station police officers in Dover and share criminals’ fingerprin­ts and other biometric data of Albanian migrants reaching the UK from France.

The memorandum is expected to be approved by Albania’s parliament next week, amid fears that Albanian gangs are illegally bringing recruits to the UK.

Albanians are said by Border Force officials to account for up to 60 per cent of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.

The deal with Albania is seen as critical to stemming the flow as it will enable officials to check the background­s of arrivals and fast-track the deportatio­n of those without genuine claims for asylum.

On Monday, 601 people made the journey in 19 boats, bringing the number of arrivals this year to 28,561 – exceeding the 28,526 who crossed in 2021. It is almost double the number detected by this point last year and more than three times the 8,466 recorded in 2020. More than 3,500 migrants arrived this month, against 4,653 in September 2021, suggesting the total could reach 60,000 by the year’s end.

The Government’s plan to deport Channel migrants to Rwanda to claim asylum there has been stalled by a High Court challenge over its legality that is unlikely to be resolved before October at the earliest.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “We are seeing how the Government’s policies, enshrined in the recent Nationalit­y and Borders Act and their Rwanda deal, are doing absolutely nothing to deter desperate people jumping on boats because they do nothing to address the reasons people come.”

Border Force officials disclosed that during the Tory leadership race, trafficker­s were enticing migrants to cross by warning of a crackdown when Liz Truss formed a government.

The Prime Minister has pledged to negotiate more Rwanda-style asylum deportatio­n deals, maintain the Navy’s role overseeing the Channel operation and take a tough approach with France to end the “deadly trade” of the people smugglers.

Natalie Elphicke, Tory MP for Dover, said: “It’s vital to see the small boats crisis brought to an end as the seas will become colder and rougher as we head into autumn and winter.”

Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary, is understood to be seeking joint Anglo-french patrols on northern French beaches to stop migrants leaving them.

The memorandum with Albania, published yesterday, states each country will appoint “liaising police officers” to exchange criminal and biometric data to cover illegal migrants and people smugglers. It is thought two Albanian officers will initially be stationed in Dover.

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