Clause 26

Part of UK Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 15th March 2007.

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Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 3:15 pm, 15th March 2007

I have already set out for the Committee the challenge that we face from those who seek to profit from the misery of those seeking to migrate illegally. As we have heard, people smugglers do not respect international boundaries or immigration laws and they will seek to exploit any gaps and vulnerabilities. The clause seeks to amend the existing facilitation offences to ensure that those who carry out acts of facilitation, whether those acts are committed within or outsidethe UK, can be prosecuted, irrespective of their nationality.

Currently, these offences cover only acts of facilitation committed within the United Kingdom. Unless a perpetrator overseas is a British national or a body incorporated in the UK, they are not encompassed within the scope of the offences. We know that people  carry out acts of facilitation outside the UK, for example by planning a route, making transportation arrangements, purchasing tickets and false documents or assisting people in deceiving carriers at check-in. Many are responsible for multiple attempts on the border, and it is simply unacceptable that those who engage in such activity abroad can be held accountable for their actions only if they are British nationals. That is why we have acted to remedy that unfairness.

The purpose of the clause, then, is to extend the scope of the offences by removing the existing limitations on their extraterritorial applications so that they cover acts of facilitation directed at the United Kingdom wherever in the world they are committed and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator. That will ensure that immigration officers are fully able to tackle individuals who exploit vulnerable people. Because of this clause and clause 25, immigration officers estimate that successful prosecutions against facilitators will increase by up to 50 per cent. In addition, the extended territorial scope of the offence will act as a significant deterrent to those who involve themselves in such criminal activity.