Giles Sheldrick, Express, August 4, 2016
Britain is home to at least 1.1m illegal immigrants who may never be deported, it was revealed today.
The latest figures suggest that for every person caught trying to sneak into the UK illegally, 130 have already made it.
A Daily Express investigation revealed 84,088 people were caught trying to slip across the border last year, equivalent to 230 a day or one every six minutes.
Yet Migration Watch think 1.1m was a “plausible estimate” of the number in Britain who had managed to sneak in, adding “there is every likelihood the number could now be considerably higher”.
A fresh row over the UK’s porous borders erupted after former Border Agency chief Rob Whiteman warned not enough attention was being paid to the number of non-EU migrants working here without permission.
He told The Times: “The scale of illegal migration and illegal working is not nearly discussed as much as other issues around immigration.
The government does not have the resources or political levers to deport hundreds of thousands of people.”
His words will be seen as thinly veiled criticism of former boss and new Prime Minister, Theresa May, who as Home Secretary was responsible for border security.
Illegal immigrants include those smuggled into the UK or entering on false papers, those overstaying their visas and failed asylum seekers who simply disappear.
Until 2005 the Government insisted no estimate was possible. But a year later a Home Office report estimated there were 430,000 illegal migrants in the UK.
The next estimate was produced by the London School of Economics for the Mayor of London in 2009 suggesting the clandestine population totalled 618,000.
Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of Migration Watch, said: “In 2010 we suggested 1.1m as a plausible estimate of the number of illegal immigrants in Britain.
“There is no reason to believe the number has fallen in the past six years. Indeed, if our estimate was accurate there is every likelihood the number could now be considerably higher.”
There are now thought to be as many as 20,000 migrants camped out along the northern French coast waiting for a chance to reach Britain.
The chaos has prompted French politicians to threaten to tear up Le Touquet Treaty and move the British border back across the Channel.
The bilateral border arrangement sees juxtaposed controls in France and Belgium. If it was scraped it would mean British border chiefs would be powerless to stop tens of thousands of migrants arriving in the UK where they could claim asylum.
Last week, people smugglers Robert Stilwell and Mark Stribling were each sentenced to more than four years for trying to bring 18 Albanian migrants into the UK by boat.
The criminals claimed they stood to pocket £2,000 each ferrying human cargo illegally from Calais under the cover of darkness.
But a judge did not believe them, saying they probably stood to gain much more from the operation after it emerged the migrants each paid £5,000 for the crossing.
The audacious bid failed after their broke down, sparking a full-scale search and rescue operation off the Kent coast.
Ukip MEP Mike Hookem said: “I’ve no doubt there are over a million people illegally living in the UK because people trafficking is a huge industry which has not been dealt with properly by either the EU or the UK.
“We have insufficient naval resources to protect our coastline with MPs reporting the ‘worryingly low number of boats’ but this is not news: the Royal Navy would be in administration had it been a public company.
“Along with the violence in Calais as people try to get on board lorries crossing the Channel, we also have increasing numbers of migrants crossing the Channel and landing in smaller ports.
“By cutting Border Force numbers and the massive under funding of the military the UK government, along with the EU, has made people trafficking a very profitable and quite easy business.
“And when there are large numbers in the UK the government’s response is to roll over and declare an amnesty–so I can’t see anything changing in the near future.”