Channel migrant boat pilots face life in prison under new crackdown

·2 min read
More than 100 people crossed the Channel in small boats on Monday - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
More than 100 people crossed the Channel in small boats on Monday - Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Migrants who pilot asylum seekers’ small boats across the Channel face sentences of up to life in prison under laws coming into effect on Tuesday.

The crackdown, in the Nationality and Borders Act, will not only increase the maximum sentences for people smugglers from 14 years to life but also extend that to migrants who steer the boats.

The sentences, which are also increased from six months to four years for illegal entry to the UK, are designed to deter attempts to reach Britain across the Channel.

More than 12,000 people have arrived in the UK so far this year, more than double last year’s rate at the same time. Nearly 100 crossed the Channel in small boats on Monday.

It comes on top of the Government’s plan to deport migrants who reach the UK illegally to Rwanda to claim asylum, which was introduced under current legislation but has been put on hold by successful human rights claims by asylum seekers.

The moves will be hailed by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, on Tuesday as part of a package of measures to reform the “broken” asylum system and combat illegal immigration.

The Act enshrines a two-tier asylum system under which those who enter the UK illegally will have fewer rights and less access to public services than those who choose to come via legal routes.

It will also allow the Government to deport foreign national offenders 12 months before they complete their prison sentences, rather than having to wait until they are about to be released.

Ministers will also get powers to strip foreign offenders of their British citizenship if they are dual nationals and have no right to be in the UK, as well as anyone who poses a risk to international peace and security.

The Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act also takes effect on Tuesday, making whole-life orders the starting point for pre-meditated child murder.

It will introduce mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill emergency workers in the line of duty and end the automatic early release of offenders deemed to be a danger to the public.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting