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People Traffickers: Prosecution Rates

Volume 724: debated on Wednesday 7 December 2022

2. What steps she is taking to increase prosecution rates for (a) small boat gangs and (b) other people traffickers. (902643)

3. What steps she is taking to increase prosecution rates for (a) small boat gangs and (b) other people traffickers. (902644)

12. What steps she is taking to increase prosecution rates for (a) small boat gangs and (b) other people traffickers. (902655)

Since we enacted the Nationality and Borders Act 2022 at the end of June, prosecutions for illegal entry and facilitating illegal entry have increased by 250%. We are working across Government to ensure that we can stop the life-threatening crossings and prosecute the gangs behind them.

Organised illegal immigration crime is transnational, making collaboration across Europe vital to tackling people-smuggling from source to transit to destination. What steps is my right hon. Friend taking to work with partners across Europe to share intelligence and resources, to ensure that more prosecutions are successfully brought against these reprehensible criminals?

My hon. Friend is a great champion for beautiful Hastings and Rye. The Government routinely work with international partners to disrupt organised crime groups. The CPS has deployed a criminal justice adviser in France who supports prosecutions on both sides of the channel. We also collaborate with other jurisdictions, for example through Eurojust—the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation—on sharing evidence-gathering where that is appropriate.

To protect increasingly stretched capacity in places such as Northampton for genuine asylum seekers, what steps is the Attorney General taking to increase prosecution rates for those behind the exploitative people-trafficking in relation to migration from high-volume but safe countries in particular?

The rate of prosecutions for people trafficking has increased enormously: in 2021-22 it rose by 48%, owing to intensive collaboration between the police and prosecutors.

I share the anger and frustration felt by many people in Gedling about the small boats issue and the traffickers behind it. What assurance can my right hon. Friend give me that frontline operatives are collaborating on the investigation and prosecution of pilots of small boats?

My hon. Friend has asked an excellent question, but I hope I can reassure him by saying that the Crown Prosecution Service is working closely with Border Force and immigration colleagues to tackle this dangerous offending. The Solicitor General, the Immigration Minister and I recently met a group of those colleagues, and were very impressed by their determination to work together.

A few weeks ago, I received an answer to a parliamentary question which indicated that over the past seven years we had paid the French authorities £300 million to try to stop people coming from France to this country illegally. Does the Attorney General think that that was value for money?

As I said earlier, it is important that we work closely with the French authorities to ensure that prosecutions can take place on both sides of the channel, and that we stamp out this illegal activity.

In November, the Police Service of Northern Ireland raided 27 brothels in Northern Ireland in what it described as the biggest operation against people trafficking that it had carried out so far. An organised crime group was smuggling people into both Northern Ireland and the Republic. What discussions has the Minister had with the PSNI about trafficking in Northern Ireland, and will she devote time to tackling this UK-wide problem with the PSNI?

The hon. Gentleman always asks important questions, as he has done on this occasion. The prosecutors have been working closely with all law enforcement agencies to provide early advice in modern slavery cases, which has itself led to an increase in evidence-led prosecutions, and I look forward to working more closely on this issue with the hon. Gentleman in the future.