WHY HAS THE DEMAND FOR ASYLUM IN THE UK
RISEN? HOW DOES THIS COMPARE WITH DEMAND IN OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES?
25. Whatever the motivation of those who seek
to enter the United Kingdom, it is clear from the evidence we
have received that the process of most illegal entrants reaching
the country involves trafficking, often by organised crime groups.
From that point of view the potential illegal entrant is a commodity
to be smuggled in the same way as drugs and un-taxed tobacco.
Organised crime switches between such commodities depending on
the rewards to be earned, the risk of detection and the penalties
on conviction. In this respect the threat faced by the UK's border
controls is not of a flood of individuals trying to reach the
country for a variety of personal motives, but of experienced
gangs of criminals, including UK nationals, testing and breaching
the defences wherever they can for substantial reward.
|"World wide, migrant smuggling and trafficking is now worth between $12 billion (IOM estimate) and $30 billion (US sources). Migrants pay £1500 from Romania, £6-9000 from India to a top rate of £16,000 from China ($30,000 from China to the United States). The fee varies with the distance travelled, mode of transport and whether extra services are offered (for example, guarantees of repeated attempts until entry is secured, work on arrival). Cost for a well forged passport can be £2,000. Profits are approaching drug smuggling levels and with lower criminal penalties if caught, there are few disincentives." Home Office evidence, Appendix 1, para 9.2.
26. In the context of the tragic deaths at Dover, we were
told by an immigration adviser to the Chinese community in Britain,
"There is a severe shortage of labour in the UK Chinese
food industry. Earnings in China are 1/20th of those in the UK.
Chinese immigration trafficking is the result of the Government's
refusal to admit a controlled flow of legal immigration. Economic
migrants are forced to become asylum-seekers. A Chinese Snakehead
is the head of a smuggling ring, part of a Triad. A Triad is an
underworld gang whose activities are wide and varied, they include
loansharking, illegal gaming, prostitution, extortion and smuggling.
... Snakeheads are active also in London and other cities in the
world. The current cost in coming to the UK is in excess of 200,000
RMB (£16,500), equivalent to at least 30 years' savings in
China for an average migrant. Those who cannot raise the money
from relatives and friends have to borrow from loansharks or Snakeheads,
in which case a guarantor is involved. Interest is currently
2-2.5% per month compound. Punishment for non-repayment is severe.
Beatings and maiming are common. Because of a migrant's genuine
fear for his safety and that of his family, should he be returned
to China before his debts are repaid, he might well qualify for
protection under the Human Rights Act".
27. One of the consequences of the involvement of organised
crime is that measures to deter illegal entrants at one place
may lead to new pressures at another. If controls at Dover become
more effective, there may be increased attempts to enter illegally
at Harwich. If checks on lorries make it harder for people to
be smuggled in that way, there may be a switch to using fast small
boats landing people on remote beaches. Ultimately, if the rewards
of people smuggling become less attractive, criminals may change
their activities back to drug or tobacco smuggling. There is the
difference that the drug trafficker may lose his cargo which is
valuable in itself; the trafficker in humans, once he has been
paid, has no value invested in what he is smuggling.
|"When discussing illegal immigration it is common to describe the immigrants as being smuggled or trafficked. However, these terms refer to different forms of immigration. Smuggling only involves the facilitation of a border crossing whereas trafficking involves a degree of exploitation (usually sexual or forced labour) in addition to the facilitation of a border crossing. Smuggling and trafficking have become a major source of income for criminal groups. It is assessed that some criminal groups have applied their knowledge of smuggling other illegal commodities to satisfy thus demand-led activity and that the high profits and low risks of organised crime attract them." National Criminal Intelligence Service: The Threat from Serious and Organised Crime May 2000
28. One aspect of tighter border controls is that it makes
it harder if not impossible for the genuine asylum seeker to reach
the UK by legal means, thus pushing him to clandestine entry.
The harder clandestine entry becomes, the more the potential entrant
- whether asylum-seeker or economic migrant - is forced into the
hands of the traffickers.
|Illegal immigration is affecting all EU Member States:|
- China, the Ukraine, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Poland, Romania and Afghanistan are [the main countries of origin of people] being smuggled
- The number of Kosovars significantly decreased in 1999, but [there are still many of them] in some of the Member States ...
- Well developed control measures at external borders and other law enforcement activities [have made] facilitators ... more important for illegal immigrants and their methods appear to have developed
- Falsified documents such as passports and visas, as well as faked invitations, are becoming more and more professionally produced and are of a great concern to most of the Member states. 1999 EU Organised Crime Situation Report - Europol 30 October 2000
29. Traffickers will try to facilitate illegal entry on many
occasions - we were told that the price charged by such organisations
reflects the possibility of repeated attempts to enter. On the
Czech/German border 20% of illegal entrants caught had tried seven
or more times before and 40% had tried two or three times before.
In 1999 the Facilitation Support Unit at Dover - a combined police
and Immigration Service operation - arrested 410 people in 299
incidents. This involved the trafficking of 1,809 illegal entrants
or asylum claimants. Trials of 120 defendants resulted in 106
convictions. Custodial sentences exceeding 172 years were given.
There have also been a number of recent cases of UK citizens sent
to prison in France for smuggling illegal immigrants into the
|"The gangs have infrastructures, communications and surveillance capabilities far in excess of anything that the law enforcement agencies in transit and source countries can muster and the ease with which they operate across international boundaries, means that the chances of their activities diminishing is negligible." Home Office, evidence, Appendix 1, para 9.4
30. We asked the Home Secretary about the role of organised
crime in encouraging clandestine entrants. He told us :
"They generate a higher level of illegal entry because,
after all, they are trading in people and they need to maintain
demand. ....I do not think there is any doubt at all that a very
high proportion of those who are unfounded asylum seekers have
been facilitated here by criminal gangs".
31. We conclude that measures to counter trafficking in
illegal immigrants require similar tactics to those used against
drug smuggling - international cooperation, tackling the problem
close to the source and aiming to disrupt the business. Border
agencies should have the necessary gateways to operate joint intelligence
cells and allow closer operational arrangements to counter the
displacement element of more effective controls.
32. When the European Union expands to admit new Member states,
the frontier between those countries and other former communist
countries of central and eastern Europe will eventually become
the external border of the EU. The Schengen area of EU countries
operating without internal border controls will include at some
stage Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and other countries.
|"Frontier control is not an exact science - problems may be managed, but they are never entirely solved. Illegal immigrants, criminal organisations, traffickers in people or drugs, have already penetrated and continue to penetrate the Union. Despite substantial investment of manpower and equipment, neither the German nor the Austrian governments have entirely succeeded in stemming unwelcome cross-border flows on their eastern frontiers. We note, for example, that many illegal immigrants apprehended in the UK had previously entered the EU across Germany's eastern frontier." House of Lords European Union Committee HL 110
33. Hungary has land borders with seven other countries, of
which only Austria is currently a member of the EU. Some of its
neighbours will also join the EU, but not necessarily at the same
time. We were told that Hungarians find it ironic that, having
been responsible for starting the collapse of the Iron Curtain
between communist countries and western Europe in 1989, they are
now building new frontier controls to meet EU requirements. Hungary
has close economic ties with border areas of other countries which
will not join the EU as early. Its border guards earn one-fifth
of the pay of German border guards. Nonetheless, we saw from our
visit to Budapest in July 2000 how effectively Hungary is preparing
for EU membership and the consequences for border controls. The
Home Office told us:
"it is reasonable to assume that it will be many years
before the internal frontier is removed between the new countries
joining Schengen - say, Poland - and the actual Schengen countries
34. A recent report by the House of Lords Select Committee
on the European Union, looked at "Enlargement and EU Frontier
conclusions confirm some of the impressions this Committee was
given during its visit to Hungary:
- flows of illegal entrants have switched to the southern perimeter
of the EU as candidate countries in the east have tightened their
- the present frontiers of the EU are by no means watertight
- applicant states are treating seriously their future responsibilities
for maintaining an external border and have made impressive progress
towards fulfilling those requirements
- the EU is already providing some training and technical support
to border forces in applicant countries
- more effort is needed to strengthen cooperation with countries
on the other side of the likely future external borders
- the full Schengen system will not be applied to the applicant
states immediately on joining the EU, but in stages afterwards
- frontier controls cannot be taken in isolation - there is
a need for close cooperation between law enforcement agencies
within the frontiers.
35. It is difficult to quantify whether enlargement of the
EU will add to the pressure on EU border controls. We are generally
impressed with the approach of Hungary to its future responsibilities
in operating EU external border controls when that country joins
the EU. The different timescale within which some of its neighbours
may also join the EU presents additional problems. We recognise
that land borders are very difficult to police - even during the
Cold War, the Iron Curtain between western Europe and the communist
countries of eastern and central Europe was not completely effective
at preventing determined people crossing land borders.
26. (At least one appeal has already been upheld on the grounds
that the appellant, if he were to be returned to China, would
be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which
would be a breach of Article 3 of the 1950 European Convention
on Human Rights. (Appeal No CC/23235/2000 4th January 2001). Back
370 (Mr Hardwick). Back
1, annex 22. Back
420-2 (Home Secretary). Back
56 (Mr Boys Smith). Back
Report 1999-2000 HL 110. Back