Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer Urges Stronger Action Against People-Smuggling

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is calling for a more robust response to combat people-smuggling, stating that it should be treated with the same severity as terrorism. Ahead of talks regarding a new security deal with Europe, Sir Keir will seek a potential agreement with Europol, the EU’s policing body. His aim is to secure a replacement for the EU’s live police data and intelligence-sharing system.

In an article penned for The Sun newspaper, Sir Keir accused the government of allowing a “criminal industry” to flourish by failing to tackle the criminal syndicates orchestrating dangerous boat crossings across the English Channel. He emphasized the need for a comprehensive approach to deal with security threats, including climate change, hostile foreign powers, terrorism, and people-smuggling.

The issue of people crossing the Channel in small boats has been a concern, with a record-breaking 45,755 migrants making the journey in 2022. So far this year, over 20,000 people have already crossed the Channel, according to the latest figures available. These numbers highlight the urgency for effective measures to curb illegal migration.

Labour’s proposal includes the establishment of a cross-border police force to counteract smuggling gangs. Additionally, they plan to invest in the National Crime Agency to bolster efforts against traffickers, moving away from the government’s previously proposed removal of asylum seekers to Rwanda. Labour believes that the withdrawal of the UK’s Europol seat and access to shared intelligence databases post-Brexit necessitates alternative arrangements to ensure robust cooperation.

However, critics from the Conservative party argue that increased law enforcement alone will not solve the small boats crisis. They contend that a comprehensive removals and deterrence program, like the one proposed in Rwanda, is necessary to dissuade individuals from undertaking the perilous journey.

Labour’s plan has faced criticism, with claims that the party’s strategy is similar to the government’s existing policies. Some skeptics have dismissed the viability of civil orders against people smugglers, asserting that their reach and impact in the UK are limited, primarily based in Europe.

As the discussion for a new security agreement with Europe unfolds, the focus on tackling people-smuggling is intensifying. Both sides will need to determine effective strategies to address this pressing issue while ensuring the security and welfare of individuals.


How is the UK addressing Channel crossings?

The UK is seeking to strengthen its response to Channel crossings by exploring collaborations with Europol and enhancing law enforcement efforts. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is advocating for a comprehensive approach to combat people-smuggling.

How many people cross the Channel in small boats?

In 2022, a record-breaking 45,755 migrants made the perilous journey across the English Channel. The number of individuals crossing this year has already exceeded 20,000, according to the latest figures.

What is the highest number of migrants to cross the Channel?

The highest number of migrants to date crossed the English Channel in 2022, with 45,755 individuals making the journey.