Channel migrants could get electronic tags as Suella Braverman vows to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get situation under control
Channel migrants could be forced to wear electronic tags as Suella Braverman vowed to do ‘whatever it takes’ to get the crisis under control.
In a round of interviews this morning, the Home Secretary said the government is looking at a ‘range of options’ including tracking arrivals rather than detaining them.
The idea, first mooted more than a year ago, is under fresh scrutiny as Rishi Sunak attempts to get a handle on immigration and stop people illegally gaining entry to the UK.
The migrants could be GPS tracked in real time and required to report via text message or in person to immigration officers multiple times a day.
Any attempt to remove the tag and abscond would result in any right to bail or to remain in the UK being automatically withdrawn.
It comes amid concerns the UK could run out of capacity in immigration detention centres, with officials asked to find alternative ways of ensuring that thousands of migrants who arrive illegally but cannot be detained do not abscond.
The new rules will stipulate that those on electronic tag must comply with any directions from the Home Office
Migrants pictured arriving into the UK earlier this week amid claims new arrivals could be electronically tagged
A dinghy carrying around 50 migrants drifts into the English Channel after being escorted out of French territory on Thursday. Experts say they resist any help from French vessels in order to reach the UK
In a round of interviews this morning, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the government is looking at a ‘range of options’ including tracking arrivals rather than detaining them
Asked about the prospect of tagging, Ms Braverman told Sky News: ‘We’ve just enacted a landmark piece of legislation in the form of our Illegal Migration Act. That empowers us to detain those who arrive here illegally and thereafter to swiftly remove them to a safe country like Rwanda.’
She said: ‘We need to exercise a level of control of people if we’re to remove them from the United Kingdom.
‘We are considering a range of options. We have a couple of thousand detention places in our existing removal capacity. We will be working intensively to increase that but it’s clear we’re exploring a range of options, all options, to ensure that we have that level of control over people so that they can flow through our systems swiftly to enable us to thereafter remove them from the United Kingdom.’
Ms Braverman said stopping Channel boat crossings is ‘what the British people expect of us’.
‘It’s what I passionately believe is the right thing to do. And we are making progress. We’ve passed our landmark legislation,’ she said.
‘But let’s also be clear about what we’re up against. We’re up against a range of forces which are intent on stopping us – whether it’s immigration lawyers, charities, NGOs, many of whom have very close links with the Labour Party, operating night and day to stop us from delivering this pledge through legal challenges in the courts.’
Ms Braverman said the government was ready to do ‘whatever it takes’ if the European Court of Human Rights blocked plans to send Channel arrivals to Rwanda.
But she stopped short of saying the UK should leave the Strasbourg court – which is not linked to the EU.
The Home Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘My personal views are clear. It’s a politicised court. It’s interventionist.
‘It’s treading on the territory of national sovereignty. But no-one’s talking about leaving the ECHR right now.
‘We’re working to deliver our plan. We’ve enacted landmark legislation. We are confident in the lawfulness of our agreement with Rwanda.’
One source told the Telegraph: ‘Tagging is being discussed as an option.’
Another source said tagging could also free-up immigration detention centres to be used for prisoners to alleviate chronic overcrowding in jails which are close to their capacity.
READ MORE: Rishi Sunak insists his plan to stop the boats is working as migrants continue to arrive in UK for 10th consecutive day
They were quoted as saying: ‘They are looking at all of these options. Given the state of prison capacity, that could reach breaking point and the Government knows that.’
The approach has been dubbed ‘punitive’ and ‘draconian’ by left-wing campaigners, who argue that those fleeing to Britain for safety are being treated like ‘criminals’.
New Home Office figures released last week revealed Britain’s asylum backlog topped 175,000 for the first time after 78,768 claims were made in the year to June.
A total of 175,457 people were waiting for an initial decision on an asylum application in the UK at the end of June 2023, up 44 per cent from 122,213 at the end of June 2022. This was the highest figure since current records began in 2010.
The huge increase has been driven by cross-Channel migrants lodging applications upon arrival in the UK. It is costing the Government nearly £6million to house migrants in hotels.
Figures also show the number of asylum seekers waiting more than six months for an initial decision stood at 139,961 at the end of June, up 57 per cent year on year from 89,231 and another record.
Meanwhile, the Government’s plan to accommodate asylum seekers on the Bibby Stockholm barge could face a legal challenge as firefighters accused ministers of a ‘callous disregard’ for the safety of those onboard.
The Bibby Stockholm is one of several sites, which also include former military bases, ministers want to use to house migrants as they await asylum decisions in an effort to cut the cost of putting them up in hotels and deter entries into the UK via unauthorised means.
Ms Braverman insisted the barge is safe, but could not say when asylum seekers would return to the vessel.
The Home Secretary told Today: ‘We’re waiting for the processes to complete and once they are done, we will be moving people back onto the barge.
‘I’m very confident about the safety standards on the barge.’
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