In reality, the journey places people in grave danger of injury, abuse, and exploitation. The journey is not only costly, but also dangerous. Men, women, and children have perished while attempting to reach the UK in small boats or hidden in lorries.
Migrants are frequently forced into extremely dangerous situations. The majority of people smugglers:
Us the cheapest boats they can find, which are not suitable for dangerous waters, overcrowded boats, and fail to provide safe lifejackets
This puts migrants’ lives in grave danger on every journey.
Don’t take any chances. Choose a legal and safe alternative.
Dangers of Illegal Boat or Lorry Travel to the UK
Many people, including children, have died or been seriously injured while attempting to travel to the UK in a small boat or by lorry.
The risks of travelling to the United Kingdom in a small boat include:
Sea conditions change quickly – your boat could capsize or sink, and you could fall into the sea and drown – this can happen in minutes because the water is so cold – your boat could break during the journey – the boats provided by smugglers are frequently unsuitable for long journeys.
Your boat could be hit by a larger vessel – the sea between England and France is the world’s busiest shipping area.
The risks of travelling to the UK in a lorry include:
You could be run over while attempting to climb onto a moving vehicle; you could freeze to death inside a refrigerated vehicle; you could easily suffocate inside a sealed container or lorry; you could be injured by items falling on top of you; you could fall off into the road or underneath the lorry; and you could be injured by items falling on top of you.
People Smugglers’ Dangers
The people who arrange your trip are frequently members of organised crime gangs and may force you into dangerous situations in order to repay their debt.
Despite what smugglers claim, many illegal immigrants struggle to find work and make ends meet in the UK. You could end up sleeping on the streets, forced to beg and give whatever money you have to the smugglers, or forced into slavery.
Criminal employers who pay no or low wages and ask you to work in hazardous conditions may assign you work. They can charge exorbitant fees for travel and unsuitable lodging.
Relying on smugglers may result in:
More money owed to criminals
Becoming part of a dangerous criminal network, putting yourself and your family at risk
What if you come to the UK from a safe country?
Even if you arrive in the UK safely, you might not be able to stay. If you enter the UK through a safe country and apply for asylum, your claim may be denied.
The UK asylum process has no advantages over other European asylum processes, and you should always seek asylum in the first safe country you arrive in.
If you make it to the UK, you may find that the reality differs from what you expected, for example:
Asylum seekers are only permitted to work in the UK if their claim has been pending for more than a year. This must be due to circumstances beyond their control. You can only work in jobs on the Shortage Occupation List if you are able to work.
Working in the UK without the proper documentation is a criminal offence. Migrants who work illegally can face up to 6 months in prison. Wages earned illegally can be seized as the proceeds of crime if someone knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person is working illegally.
If an employer is found to be illegally employing someone, the employer may be fined or prosecuted.
Only those with legal immigration status are permitted to rent private housing. Landlords and agents who knowingly rent property to an illegal migrant commit a felony.
Illegal immigrants in the UK do not have access to public funds. Those who do not have legal immigration status may be charged if they need hospital treatment or secondary health care while in the UK. Outstanding payments for medical treatment may also result in the denial of future immigration applications.
Other services, such as bank accounts and driving licences, are also restricted if you are illegally in the UK.
If you illegally enter the UK and have travelled through or have a connection to a safe country, you will be considered for relocation to Rwanda beginning January 1, 2022.
Asylum seekers relocated to Rwanda will have their claims processed there. Rwanda will be solely responsible for them.
People whose claims for protection are denied will be given the option of remaining in Rwanda or returning to their home country; they will not be allowed to return to the UK once their claims have been decided by Rwanda.
The number of people who can be relocated to Rwanda is unlimited.
Penalties and prison terms
The UK is also toughening penalties and introducing new criminal offences for illegal immigrants. It will be a criminal offence to enter the UK knowingly without a valid entry clearance when one is required. If you enter the country illegally, you could face up to four years in prison and deportation to a safe country.
If you are caught assisting people smugglers, such as steering the boat or assisting others to pay smugglers, the UK government may prosecute you. You could be imprisoned before being transferred to a safe country.
The UK government has toughened penalties for people smugglers, with life imprisonment as the maximum penalty. Report immigration crime, including people smugglers, in a secure and anonymous manner.
How the UK and European governments are collaborating to prevent illegal immigration to the UK
The UK is collaborating closely with the governments of France and Belgium to do everything possible to stop illegal migrants before they reach the UK. In 2021, French and UK authorities foiled over 23,000 attempts to enter the UK illegally. So far in 2022, over 6,000 crossings have been prevented, more than twice as many as at this point last year.
The following are some of the ways governments are attempting to prevent illegal immigration to the United Kingdom.
French police patrol beaches in search of migrants attempting to cross the Channel in small boats.
People are being arrested and prosecuted in connection with small boat crossings by the UK government, police, and international organisations.
Since the establishment of the UK-France Joint Intelligence Cell in July 2020, the UK and France have dismantled 21 organised crime groups and made over 500 arrests.
Since 2020, UK government investigations have resulted in over 140 convictions for people smuggling involving vans, lorries, cars, and yachts, as well as 49 small boat prosecutions.
All EU checkpoints before reaching the UK are searched and checked by UK and French border officers. Officers employ dogs, monitors, and scanners to detect people breathing inside trucks.
The United Kingdom, France, and Belgium are sharing technology such as drones to detect people attempting to enter the United Kingdom.
Safe and legal ways to travel to the United Kingdom
There are several safe and legal ways to enter the UK. People smugglers cannot guarantee your safety or your right to remain in the UK. Learn more about safer alternatives below.
Always seek asylum in the first safe country you reach.