Arrivals hit 5,000 as Albania dominates Channel crossings this year

Security fears over Albania boat surge: Arrivals hit 5,000 for the year so far as nation dominates Channel crossings… and crooks are now recruiting ‘cleanskins’ with not criminal record to join UK operations

  • More than 5,000 Albanians have crossed the English Channel so far this year 
  • The number of Albanian small boat migrants is increasing ‘exponentially’
  • Albanians make up more than 60 per cent of those on some individual boats

More than 5,000 Albanians have reached Britain across the English Channel so far this year, with over half of Wednesday’s 600 arrivals from the Balkan state, the Daily Mail can disclose.

The number of Albanian small boat migrants is increasing ‘exponentially’, and they make up more than 60 per cent of those on some individual boats, sources said.

Albanian dominance of the Channel route is growing by the day.

Earlier this week, the Mail reported more than 4,000 had arrived since the start of the year, and the Mail on Sunday disclosed earlier this month how during a six-week period earlier in the summer they made up four in ten arrivals.

The figures are rocketing, even though there has been no conflict for more than 25 years in Albania, a Nato ally which aspires to join the European Union. 

A total of 606 migrants crossed the Channel on Wednesday, according to figures published by the Ministry of Defence yesterday.

Insiders revealed ‘more than half’ of those were Albanian.

The Mail can also reveal that Albanian crimelords are sending ‘cleanskins’ with no criminal record to the UK aboard small boats to become embroiled in organised gangs.

Criminal records checks on Channel arrivals are failing to pick up connections between some arrivals and organised crime groups, sources said.

Officials fear migrants with no previous convictions are being drawn into serious crime such as drug gangs in order to repay debts they owe people traffickers, posing a significant risk to the British public.

‘Cleanskins’ is a term originally used by security services in Northern Ireland to describe recruitment of terrorists with no criminal record by IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries.

‘You have a hardcore of criminals who keep re-circulating around the system,’ a source said. 

‘But the numbers now mean that you’ve got people who are mostly unknown to the system coming in as well, which I find a little bit more worrying because we don’t know anything about them. 

‘Some of it is because they are just cleanskins in Albania.

‘At least if we know something about someone who arrives, we can detain them.’

There has also been a significant up-tick in the number of Albanians arriving by other routes, such as ‘clandestines’ in the back of lorries.

One man who entered Britain in the back of a lorry three months ago was among a group of 18 returned to Tirana aboard a Home Office charter flight yesterday.

The other 17 were criminals who had been handed a combined 56 years in jail sentences, including two who were each handed more than ten years’ imprisonment for Class A drugs offences.

Almost 1,000 Albanians have been removed from the UK since the start of the year, including 487 criminals.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘These criminals have violated our laws and our values, and we will stop at nothing to remove those with no right to be here.’

It can also be revealed today that almost half of detainees in the UK’s immigration detention centres are now Albanian nationals.

The concentration of 600 Albanians in the centres – all male – has led to ‘challenging behaviour’, with intimidation of staff and other detainees, it is understood.

The proportion of Albanians deported from the UK by the Home Office has collapsed. 

Sources said nationals from the Balkan country arrive fully briefed on how to use the legal system to their advantage. 

Four years ago, the Home Office was able to remove 70 per cent of Albanian migrants who arrived in the UK but that figure has plummeted to 20 per cent.

It emerged earlier this month how people traffickers have launched a ‘summer sale’ aimed mainly at Albanians seeking to reach Britain.

The gangs have cut prices to as low as £1,500-a-head and entice young men in Albania with tales of how they can ‘get rich quick’ in London.

The human traffickers have even produced videos on social media with the promise: ‘The French won’t stop you. On the contrary, they will escort you safely until you reach the UK water border.’

The Home Office has stepped up co-operation with the authorities in Albania. 

Alastair King-Smith, UK ambassador there, said: ‘Too often young Albanians are being encouraged to come to the UK under false pretences and lies from callous criminal gangs.’

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