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5 Aug, 2023 17:30

Number of undetected migrants to UK last year revealed

Asylum seekers are finding alternative methods to arrive on UK shores, government data suggests
Number of undetected migrants to UK last year revealed

An estimated 21,000 migrants are believed to have entered the United Kingdom last year entirely undetected by border authorities, The Times reported on Saturday, citing a source within the UK’s Home Office.

Despite the figure, a Home Office spokesperson said in comments published by the Times on Saturday: “We are relentless in our pursuit of those who seek to enter the UK illegally. Border Force have robust measures in place to detect clandestine entrants into the UK and stand ready to respond to any methods deployed.”

The government data obtained by the newspaper shows that around 30,000 asylum applicants did not enter the UK on small boats but instead arrived by other means of transportation.

Official Home Office data shows that nearly 9,000 illegal migrants were discovered by Border Force authorities attempting to enter the UK without adequate documentation. This means that around 21,000 migrants who attempted to submit asylum applications in 2022 had gained entry to the United Kingdom without detection by immigration authorities.

A further 54,563 migrants who arrived in the UK, including on small boats, lorries or as stowaways on ships, were detected by border authorities up to 72 hours after crossing the border, the Times said.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had made his campaign pledge of ‘Stop the Boats’ one of his primary objectives since taking office in Downing Street last year. However, the Home Office figures appear to show that an increasing number of migrants are choosing non-traditional entry points.

This is perhaps, according to supply chain specialist Oakland International, due to migrants looking for different ways to enter the country amid Sunak’s policy on small boats – which included deporting undocumented migrants to Rwanda.

The data also leads to questions about the robustness of UK security at its border entry points, the Times notes. Last year, freight-industry figures suggested that official government figures, which appeared to show a precipitous drop in the numbers of stowaway migrants, did not tally to higher numbers of migrant detections observed in industry data.

Trade magazine The Grocer said that it has registered a 33% increase in fresh produce having to be destroyed last year due to food safety concerns linked to stowaways. In February, the Home Office increased the fine that haulage operators must pay if a stowaway is found in one of their vehicles, from £2,000 ($2,500) per migrant to £10,000 ($12,750).