Priti Patel blames videos on TikTok, Facebook and Twitter as migrant Channel crossings surge

Posts ‘glamourise’ dangerous journey, claims home secretary

Jon Sharman
Sunday 06 June 2021 15:45 BST
<p>More than 600 people were intercepted in the busy shipping lane in just three days last week</p>

More than 600 people were intercepted in the busy shipping lane in just three days last week

Priti Patel has blamed social media companies for helping to promote dangerous crossings of the English Channel to migrants hoping to reach the UK.

Videos hosted on TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are used by people-smugglers to promote their trade, according to the Home Office.

Ms Patel has now written to the companies demanding they act more quickly to remove the videos.

It comes after almost 600 people were intercepted as they tried to cross the channel in just three days this week, despite the home secretary’s repeated promises to make the route “unviable”.

Ms Patel said: “Posts which promote and even glamourise these lethal crossings are totally unacceptable. They encourage others to leave a safe European country and put theirs and their family’s life at risk and are even used by people smugglers to promote their deadly business.

“What these posts don't mention are the people who have died trying to make this crossing, or those forced to spend 13 hours in unseaworthy boats in freezing waters.

“Working with the National Crime Agency, social media companies have made progress in removing these horrendous posts, but they must quickly and proactively remove posts related to illegal crossings before more men, women and children die.”

A Facebook spokesperson said: “People smuggling is illegal and any ads, posts, pages or groups that co-ordinate this activity are not allowed on Facebook. We will continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies around the world including the NCA and Europol to identify, remove and report this illegal activity.”

It emerged this weekend that the Home Office was investigating an incident in which migrants attempting to cross the English Channel were reportedly picked up in French waters by the UK Border Force and taken to Dover.

The move was orchestrated between senior crew members of HMC Valiant and French patrol ship Athos last Saturday, The Daily Mail reported.

Enver Solomon, chief executive of the Refugee Council, said: “This government's approach to tackling Channel crossings isn't working and is destined to fail.

“The reality is that when fleeing war, terror and persecution, ordinary people are forced to take extraordinary steps to seek safety in another country.

“Instead of relying solely on an enforcement approach to stop the crossings, this government needs to expand safe routes so that people don't have to risk their lives taking dangerous journeys at the mercy of criminals and people smugglers.

“Creating safe and regular routes to the UK – through an expanded resettlement programme, humanitarian visas and reforming the restrictive family reunion rules – is the way to effectively address the issue.”

Ministers were accused just weeks ago of lacking both “compassion and competence” in their attempts to deal with the Channel issue. Meanwhile, European countries have queued up to reject bilateral deals with the UK to return asylum seekers.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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