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Britain’s Home Secretary Priti Patel while giving a statement to parliament this week concerning the government’s plan to send migrants and asylum seekers who cross the Channel to Rwanda. Photo: AFP

UK begins electronically tagging migrants coming via ‘unnecessary, dangerous routes’

  • The 12-month Home Office pilot scheme involves electronically tagging some people arriving on small boats or in the back of lorries
  • First to be tagged are likely to be those who avoided removal to Rwanda after European Court of Human Rights’ intervention this week
Human rights

Some people arriving in the UK via small boats or the back of lorries will be electronically tagged as part of a Home Office trial programme.

The department said the 12-month pilot, which began on Wednesday, will test whether electronic monitoring is an effective way to give immigration bail to those who arrive in the country using “unnecessary and dangerous” routes.

It comes after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Tuesday granted an injunction that resulted in a chartered aircraft to Kigali being unable to depart Wiltshire.

Home Secretary Priti Patel accused the ECHR of being politically motivated in its “absolutely scandalous” decision, while Justice Secretary Dominic Raab suggested new laws could ensure that interim measures from the Strasbourg court could effectively be ignored by the government.

People thought to be migrants who undertook the crossing from France in small boats and were picked up in the Channel, arrive in southeast England on Friday. Photo: AP

On Saturday, the Home Office said some of those who had been due to be on Tuesday’s flight to Rwanda could be tagged.

“We will keep as many people in detention as the law allows but where a court orders that an individual due to be on Tuesday’s flight should be released, we will tag them where appropriate,” a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was still confident of the legality of the plan to send some asylum seekers to Rwanda.

“Every single court in this country said there was no obstacle that they could see, no court in this country ruled the policy unlawful which was very, very encouraging,” he told reporters on Saturday.

The UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday, the day a government pilot scheme electronically tagging some migrants began. Photo: AFP

“We are very confident in the legality, the lawfulness of what we are doing and we are going to pursue the policy.”

The Home Office said its trial will test whether tagging aids regular contact with those given bail and progresses their claims more effectively.

Those tagged will have to regularly report in person to authorities, may be subject to a curfew or excluded from certain locations, and failure to comply could see them returned to detention or prosecuted.

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It comes after new figures revealed the number of people crossing the Channel to reach Britain this year has passed 11,000.

Analysis of Ministry of Defence data by the PA news agency shows 11,092 people have been brought to shore by Border Force or the RNLI after being rescued from small boats in the Channel, the world’s busiest shipping lane.

On Thursday, 146 people on four small boats were brought to Britain.

The daily number has been decreasing steadily throughout the week after a high of 444 on Tuesday. That was the highest number since 562 on April 14.


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At least 48 people were brought ashore at Dover on Thursday, including women and children as well as adult men.

Warm weather and calm seas this week may have encouraged an increase in attempted crossings.

With two weeks of June left to go the number of people crossing the Channel is almost double this time last year.

By the end of June 2021, 5,911 people had made the crossing so far that year.

Additional reporting by Reuters