Europe

Up to TWO percent of Albania’s males arrive in small boats

Channel crossings: Tice rages over migrants from Albania

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And he warned many of those end up working for Albanian crime gangs running “drug-smuggling, human-trafficking, gun and prostitution” rackets in the UK.

Dan O’Mahoney, the Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, told MPs the number of Albanians arriving on small boats has “accelerated rapidly” in a year from 800 to 12,000.

He said of those, 10,000 are single men and “large numbers…are deliberately gaming the system” by claiming asylum before vanishing from the hotels they are put up in.

Mr O’Mahoney added the soaring figures were due to the fact Albanian gangs have broken the Kurdish stranglehold on people-smuggling routes.

Speaking to the home affairs committee, yesterday, he said: “Depending on how you look at it, one to two per cent of the entire adult male of Albania has travelled to the UK by small boat.

“The rise has been exponential. We think that is, in the main, due to the fact Albanian criminal gangs have gained a foothold in the north of France and they have begun facilitating very large numbers of migrants.

“Within that cohort there are undoubtedly people who need our help. But there are also large numbers who are deliberately gaming the system. There is a huge amount of very harmful, serious and organised criminality in the UK committed by Albanian criminal gangs.

“Whatever sort of criminality you can think of that is the most serious sort, there are Albanian criminal gangs who are dominating in those markets – be it drug smuggling, human trafficking, guns, prostitution.”

His warnings came after shock figures last month showed the number of Albanians in UK prisons jumped from 180 in 2012 to 1,500 last year.

At that rate, ministers have been warned there will be more people from Albania in British jails than the 5,000 locked up in their own country within just four years. Campaigners say the UK is at risk of becoming “Albania’s Alcatraz”.

Mr O’Mahoney said the Royal Navy has prevented hundreds of drownings as migrants try to cross the Channel in flimsy boats. He added: “Some of them will need our help and will file asylum claims.

“But a lot of them are not actually interested in claiming asylum… we’ll put them in a hotel room, then they will disappear. They will work illegally for six months to a year and send money home.

“And they are able to do that because the way the asylum system works and the way the National Referral Mechanism [for modern slavery victims] works makes it easy for them to do so.”

More than 38,000 people have arrived in the UK so far this year compared with 28,526 for the whole of last year. France has also stopped 28,000 attempts to cross – by destroying 1,072 boats.

Mr O’Mahoney said French laws prevent their police from detaining migrants or preventing them from making the crossings. So they focus on puncturing the dinghies used to cross the sea and to “hit the organised crime gangs in the pocket”.

He told MPs: “I should put on record my thanks to the French… this is around double what they managed to achieve last year, so that is really, really significant.” But Mr O’Mahoney added that there were too few French police on the beaches.

A deal to put British boots on the French coastline was nearly reached in the summer.

The Daily Express understands a press release had been prepared revealing up to 50 people would be stationed there, with the UK Government paying up to £50million to the French for the boosted joint patrols.

But sources told us negotiations broke down after Liz Truss made comments about Emmanuel Macron. During the Tory leadership contest, she said “the jury is out” on whether the French President was a friend of the UK.

The gaffe infuriated Mr Macron and French interior minister Gerald Darmanin and the announcement was cancelled at the 11th hour. Sources claimed this then led to France demanding more money than had previously been agreed.

Then Prime Minister Boris Johnson was also said to have been furious about the diplomatic blunder as it would have been one of the final announcements of his premiership.

Home Office sources refused to comment on how much extra the French were demanding, but suggested it would be wrong to say negotiations have “fallen through”.

The surging number of migrant crossings will heap fresh pressure on both London and Paris, and other European governments, to secure a deal to prevent migrants travelling across the Continent in the hope of reaching Britain.

The number of claims for asylum in the UK has now reached the highest number for two decades.

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