Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has revealed a collaborative effort between social media companies and the UK government to expedite actions against online content related to people smuggling, particularly criminals disseminating information about illegal crossings across the English Channel.
Sunak’s initiative aligns with his “stop the boats” objective, aiming to curb the dangerous practice of human traffickers charging significant amounts to migrants for perilous sea crossings.
This partnership intends to address online content offering discounts for groups, false documents, safe passage claims, and free spaces for children, which exploit vulnerable individuals for profit and endanger lives through illegal and hazardous journeys.
Sunak emphasized, “To stop the boats, we have to tackle the business model of vile people smugglers at source.” He stated that collaboration with tech firms would enhance efforts to combat these criminals and shut down their harmful trade.
Statistics from the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) indicate that over 90% of online people smuggling content is removed when reported to social media companies. This alliance aims to intensify actions against criminal gangs exploiting the internet to lure people into paying for illegal crossings.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman emphasized the importance of the partnership: “This strengthened collaboration between the National Crime Agency, government and social media companies will ensure content promoting dangerous and illegal Channel crossings doesn’t see the light of day.”
Under the initiative, social media companies will enhance cooperation with the UK NCA to detect and remove criminal content. A new center, the “Online Capability Centre,” led by the UK NCA and Home Office, will bolster law enforcement’s ability to identify such content on social media platforms. With £11 million in state funding, this center will undermine and disrupt organized crime groups’ business models behind illegal crossings.
This development coincides with reports of migrants being housed on a barge in southwest England to reduce taxpayer-funded hotel costs. Sunak’s “stop the boats” strategy aligns with his commitment to address illegal immigration and facilitate swift returns agreements with European nations.
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