Focus should be on the boats to tackle the migrant crisis - Dr Alan Billings
We saw that recently in Manvers when a hotel used by the Home Office to house these migrants attracted demonstrations and counter-demonstrations – groups opposing immigration and groups supporting the people in the hotel.
It required a large police presence to ensure that the verbal clashes did not escalate any further and that was a costly operation to mount. Every pound spent on this was a pound not spent fighting crime. Every police officer at the protests was a police officer not tackling crime.
The exponential rise in the numbers coming in small boats over such a short period of time is astonishing: 289 in 2018, 8,466 in 2020, 45,755 in 2022.
The Home Secretary said that at the present rate, 80,000 could cross in 2023. If these numbers were realised, it would mean that there were as many people coming into the country in small boats as there are inmates in all our prisons.
That is a lot of additional accommodation that is going to be needed and a lot of objections from local residents to overcome. And the cost of the asylum system is already running at £3bn per annum.
The Illegal Migration Bill, which is currently before parliament, will see all those who arrive illegally in small boats detained and then deported ‘within weeks’. Those who are deported will not be allowed to come here in the future or be given British citizenship. It is thought that this latter will be a big deterrent.
The accommodation where they will be housed is yet to be determined, but will not be hotels. The countries to which they will be deported, apart from Rwanda, are yet to be found. Rwanda can only receive about 400, so more places are going to be needed quickly.
The rhetoric in which the policy has been framed is tough, but we don’t know yet whether it is a workable solution. We don’t even know whether it is legal. In the meantime, if the boats keep coming, we can expect more protests and more police overtime.
If we look at this growth in numbers over recent years we would have to conclude two things.
First, every government initiative to stem the flow has so far failed. Second, every initiative has had the opposite effect to the one intended: numbers have gone up, not down. This strongly suggests that each initiative is not new but is somehow repeating the same mistakes.
A workable ‘stop the boats’ plan needs to have the primary focus elsewhere: namely, on the boats – those who manufacture them, those who sell them, those who buy them and those who lure the migrants into them – not the migrants.
This is what the police understand as disruptive activity.
We need boats to have identification so that we can know where a boat was made, who sold it and to whom. Then we can start to disrupt this supply chain.
This would require close co-operation with the French, something that was lacking from 2019 until recently.
A shortened version of the Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire’s latest blog post.