Patel: Home Office looking at creating safe routes for asylum seekers

The Government is looking at creating safe, legal routes for asylum seekers to enter the UK, Priti Patel has announced.

The Home Secretary confirmed that her department is working “right now” at finding new routes “for the protection of those that need our help”.

Ms Patel’s comments came after she faced calls from all parties to look at the issue to prevent unsafe Channel crossings by migrants.

September has been the busiest month on record for Channel crossings.

Migrants arriving in Dover
Migrants arriving in Dover

EU regulations say refugees should be considered for asylum in the first safe country they arrive in.

Tory David Simmonds (Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner) said: “Can I ask (Ms Patel), given that you need currently to be in the UK to establish a claim, what plan she has and the department has for creating safe, legal routes so that we have the ability then to robustly disrupt traffickers trying to bring people in illegally?”

Speaking in the Commons, Ms Patel replied: “(Mr Simmonds) is right about the need for, well, greater need for, safe, legal routes.

“But I should also add that it is right that as a Government we pursue the individuals that are facilitating criminality and (Mr Simmonds) has heard this afternoon already, the figures of arrests, the number of convictions, we will continue to do that.

“And of course we are working right now to look at new routes, safe, legal routes for the protection of those that need our help.”

Earlier, Home Office minister Chris Philp told MPs: “The Government is committed to completely ending these dangerous crossings facilitated by ruthless criminals, which are also unnecessary because France is a safe country.

Chris Philp
Chris Philp

“Our clandestine Channel threat commander, newly appointed, is working closely with his French colleagues to stop these embarkations in the first place and we’re also working tirelessly to return people who have made this journey.

“We are working at the moment with other European countries to return people back to European countries where they have previously claimed asylum. Indeed return flights went last week and are going this week as well.”

Responding to Tory Shaun Bailey (West Bromwich West), he said: “However, he’s right to say that leaving the Dublin regulations creates new opportunities.

“We have already tabled a draft readmissions agreement for consideration by the European Commission, but he can rest assured that once we are out of the transition period on 1 January this Government will be redoubling its efforts to make sure people that come here from safe countries, for example, are rapidly returned.

“Our objective and the Home Secretary’s objective is to make this route completely unviable so nobody attempts it in the first place. It is dangerous, it is illegally facilitated and it is unnecessary.

“We’re working with the French to prevent the embarkations happening in the first place, we’re looking at tactics we can deploy at sea to prevent the crossings from happening, and we are looking at what more we can do to return people once they make the crossing.

”Those measures taken together will make this route unviable and end these crossings.”