British police are collaborating with North African countries to dismantle gangs that are attempting to sneak hundreds of thousands of migrants into Europe.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is strengthening ties with nations such as Tunisia and Algeria in an effort to reduce illicit border crossings into Italy.
Italian officials anticipate that around 400,000 migrants will enter the country illegally this year, four times the number in the previous year.
The Home Office is concerned that this may exacerbate the small boat situation as the newcomers make their way through Europe.
“We’re taking the fight to the people-smuggling gangs upstream to help prevent dangerous and unnecessary journeys long before migrants reach the UK,” said Mr Jenrick, who is on a tour of North Africa and Europe to meet counterparts.
“Just as we’ve deepened diplomatic and security co-operation on illegal migration with France, Italy and Albania, we are working to enhance our cooperation with other key transit and source countries for migration to tackle this shared challenge.”
“It is right that we use all the assets of the state to disrupt, degrade and deny gangs at source.”
To stop people traffickers, the National Crime Agency will work with forces from other countries. Officers will share knowledge and experience to combat criminal gangs, and they will have access to evidence that can assist in shutting down other elements of their networks.
Mr Jenrick is in Tunisia and Algeria, and will meet with Libyan officials in a nearby country because Libya remains too volatile to travel.
More than 200 individuals perished last month while attempting to cross from Tunisia to Italy. It has become the primary point of entry into Europe from North Africa, with parts of the coastline only 93 miles from the Italian island of Lampedusa.
One of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s top five priorities is to address the UK’s small boat situation.
A pact negotiated with Albania in December in response to an increase in the number of individuals illegally entering the UK has resulted in the return of over 1,000 people so far.
Britain will also contributing over £500 million over three years to assist France in preventing migrant crossings across the Channel. Some of the funds will be used to build a new detention centre in France, while surveillance on French beaches will be increased.