Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 22


The Facilitation Support Unit (FSU) was formed in July 1994 to counter the growing trend of facilitation of asylum and illegal entry, both by clandestine and document abuse means. It is jointly staffed by the Immigration Service (IS) and Kent Police and is based in IS accommodation in Dover. The cost of resources such as telecommunications, information technology and transport is shared by the two agencies. The staffing complement currently comprises a Chief Immigration Officer, four Immigration Officers, a Detective Inspector and seven Detective Constables.

  The FSU's principal remit is to investigate incidents of suspected facilitation of illegal entrants and asylum claimants and, where appropriate, to instigate prosecutions under Section 25 of the 1971 Act as amended by the 1996 and 1999 Acts. In 1999, the FSU investigated 299 incidents and arrested 410 persons suspected of facilitating a total of 1,803 illegal entrants/asylum claimants. In the same period, 105 trials were completed involving 120 defendants and resulting in 106 convictions. Custodial sentences exceeding 172 years were imposed.

  The statistics point to the success of the joint agency approach to the problem of facilitation. However, there have been teething problems in achieving the standard of evidence required for the Crown Prosecution Service to sanction prosecution in some cases. In particular, there has been difficulty in establishing that facilitation was "for gain" in Section 25 (1)(b) cases involving asylum claimants as required by Section 25(1A) as amended by the 1996 Act. That said, the 1999 Act has helpfully extended the scope of Section 25 of the 1971 Act in areas relating to actions committed abroad by British Citizens to facilitate the entry of asylum claimants and the seizure and forfeiture of vehicles used in facilitation attempts. Significantly, the 1999 Act has increased the maximum custodial sentence that can be imposed following a conviction on indictment from seven years to ten years' imprisonment.

  It is hoped that legislative changes, together with the implementation of the Civil Penalty regime, will deter the facilitation of illegal entrants and asylum claimants, but will assist both the FSU and the Courts in dealing effectively with the problem when it arises.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 31 January 2001