In Brief

Illegal migrants to be used as ‘whistle-blowers’ to convict traffickers

National Crime Agency to offer more lenient treatment to immigration offenders who help jail smugglers

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is hoping to turn illegal immigrants into “whistle-blowers” by offering to handle immigration offences “more sensitively” for those who help police.

Rob Richardson, the head of the organisation’s human trafficking unit, told The Times that prosecutions are difficult to secure unless victims go on the record. But NCA bosses hope to achieve more arrests and convictions by giving illegal workers the chance to improve their odds of being able to stay in the UK if they speak out.

 Although the offer is not a “get-out-of-jail-free card”, adds the newspaper, Richardson says there is “a balance to be had”.

“If people are in exploitative situations or are being exploited, we have a duty of care to them as well,” he said. “If an immigration offence has been committed that would have to be investigated, but it would be investigated sensitively.” 

In early May, the BBC reported a coronavirus “lockdown spike” in migrants intercepted crossing the English Channel into the UK. On the Friday of the May Day bank holiday, eight boats carrying 145 people were stopped - a new record for a single day. A further 82 were intercepted in the following 24 hours.

Tho migrants picked up by Border Force officials claimed to be Iranian, Iraqi, Kuwaiti, Syrian and Afghan nationals, according to the broadcaster.

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Outlining the new plan to crack down on traffickers, Robinson said the NCA had feared that the closure of many service businesses as a result of the coronavirus pandemic would see “illegal workers being abandoned onto the streets by gangs who had no use for them”.

However, intelligence and local police reports suggest that trafficked workers have been moved into other jobs, including sexual exploitation on “pay-per-view video sites”. Richardson said: “Organised crime moves to where there is an opportunity to make money. If it cannot make money where it is, it will move elsewhere.”

Recommended

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk
A Covid patient is wheeled into hospital
Fact file

Long Covid: the symptoms, the treatment and who is most at risk

Inside the new northern Conservatism
Boris Johnson in Hartlepool
Expert’s view

Inside the new northern Conservatism

‘The Darling Hugs of May’
Today's newspaper front pages
Today’s newspapers

‘The Darling Hugs of May’

Fact check: does a pint a day really keep the doctor away?
binge drinking
In Depth

Fact check: does a pint a day really keep the doctor away?

Popular articles

Laurence Fox to Count Binface: the most colourful London mayor candidates
Count Binface
Behind the scenes

Laurence Fox to Count Binface: the most colourful London mayor candidates

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Chris Rock stars in the fourth series of Fargo
In Review

TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?
Night Tube Sadiq Khan
In Depth

London mayoral race 2021: who will win?