The UK and Turkey will work together to “disrupt and dismantle” people smuggling gangs under a new deal announced today.
A new operational “centre of excellence” will be established by the Turkish National Police as part of the agreement and both countries will also share intelligence.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said he was unable to disclose how the amount of money handed over by the UK government as part of the deal.
He told GB News only that “we are giving some funding”, adding: “It is not primarily about money.
“This is mainly about the share of intelligence and information between our world-leading police and security services and their law enforcement authorities, so that if we find out something important, that can be acted upon quickly, and vice versa.”
It comes as Downing Street is accused of seeking to distract from what Labour has said are “catastrophic failures” on its immigration policy.
On Monday just 15 asylum seekers boarded the Bibby Stockholm barge, after legal challenges by lawyers stopped 20 others from moving onto the floating vessel.
Ultimately the accommodation, docked in Portland Port off the coast of Dorset, will only house 500 single males – fewer than 1% of the number of people awaiting for their asylum claims to be processed.
Labour has called on the government to get a grip of the asylum case backlog and said a series of announcements this week – including a crackdown on a “tiny minority” of dodgy immigration lawyers – are nothing more than “headline-grabbing moments”.
The Law Society also accused the government of “lawyer-bashing” with the announcement of work that is not new.
The government has been largely focusing on finding cheaper forms of accommodation to reduce the expensive hotel bill for asylum seekers, hoping this will also act as a deterrent for people crossing the channel.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the new partnership with Turkey will concentrate on trying to “smash the people smuggling gangs” in order to “stop the boats”.
She said: “Our partnership with Turkey, a close friend and ally, will enable our law enforcement agencies to work together on this international problem and tackle the small boat supply chain.”
According to the Home Office, the export of small boats and boat parts across the continent of Europe in order to facilitate illegal crossings to the UK is a vital element of people smugglers’ tactics.
The deal with Turkey aims to facilitate the swifter exchange of customs data, information and intelligence between UK and Turkish authorities, bolstering the collaborative efforts to disrupt the supply chain of materials employed in illegal migration.
The centre will allow for greater collaboration between the National Crime Agency and Home Office Intelligence staff based in Turkey and their Turkish counterparts, with the UK set to deploy more officers to Turkey to help with joint operations.