Last week I met the Minister for Immigration to discuss how we can increase the prosecution rate further for those who engage in this dangerous offending. I am pleased to report that there has been a significant increase in all immigration prosecutions since the end of June last year, with the CPS bringing 260 prosecutions and so far securing 164 convictions.
Increasing prosecution rates is an important way of tackling people trafficking, but another is ensuring safe and legal routes for people seeking asylum. The all-party parliamentary group on Afghan women and girls, which I co-chair, has written to the Government looking for support for those very vulnerable groups. Does the Attorney General accept that her assessment for the Government of the Illegal Migration Bill might be better if safe and legal routes were progressed at the same time?
I thank the hon. Lady for her work on that important APPG; she will have heard my answer to the previous question. The Government need to use every tool available to us to stop these dangerous crossings. One of those tools is prosecution, which is going well. Another tool is working closely with the French Government, and it is important to note that the French have prevented 31,000 crossings this year, which is nearly 50% up on this time last year.
The Government are working flat out to stop people smugglers from continuing their evil trade and to ensure that they are brought to justice. What assistance is the Crown Prosecution Service providing to investigators on small boat pilots and other people traffickers?
The Crown Prosecution Service is working hard on these prosecutions and will not hesitate where people are suspected of immigration offences whenever the legal test is met. It is focusing on the pilots of small boats and also on disrupting the supply chains of people traffickers and organised crime gangs.