Despite passing new legislation earlier this year making it illegal to knowingly enter the United Kingdom without permission, fewer than 100 migrants reaching Britain’s shores have been arrested, according to the BBC.
The public broadcaster reported on Monday that the figure of those arrested since the law change was equal to just 0.3 percent of new arrivals, with more than 42,000 individuals using irregular channels to enter the country.
The figure was acquired following a freedom of information (FOI) request after the Home Office reportedly refused to disclose it.
The passing of the Nationality and Borders Act was supposed to be a part of the government’s response to cracking down on illegal migration into Britain, which has soared in the past few years. The ongoing crisis in the English Channel has seen a record number of arrivals by small boats in each of the last five years, resulting in the Home Office spending approximately £7 million per day housing migrants in hotel accommodation due to shortages in social housing.
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The main reason for the low percentage of arrests is due to the fact that the majority of those arriving via irregular channels are claiming asylum, despite significant numbers of new arrivals originating from and crossing through safe countries to reach Britain.
According to Home Office data, the single largest country of origin for new arrivals via the English Channel is Albania, from where at least 12,000 people have come in 2022 alone, 10,000 of whom are single, adult males.
Questions remain over the effectiveness of the new legislation designed to deter new arrivals if the vast majority claim asylum and are therefore exempt from being prosecuted, no matter how bogus their application may be.
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The Home Office, in a statement to the BBC, insisted the new law was just one useful tool available to the government in its continued fight against people smuggler gangs trafficking migrants into Britain.
“Our Nationality and Borders Act is beginning to break through this exploitative business model, with more than 280 people already arrested since it became law,” a Home Office spokesperson told the broadcaster.
“The figures referenced only detail those arrested for illegal arrival not illegal entry or anyone arrested for a breach of a deportation order under the new act,” they added.