United Kingdom and Türkiye strengthen partnership to help tackle illegal migration
UK and Turkish law enforcement officers will step up joint operations to tackle organised immigration crime and disrupt the supply chain of boat parts and other materials used as part of illegal migration journeys.
The move follows Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick’s visit to Türkiye last month, the latest in a number of strategically important international visits to strengthen cooperation on the challenge of tackling illegal migration and disrupting the routes used by smugglers.
This has included visits to Belgium, Tunisia, Italy and Türkiye, where he visited the Turkish-Bulgarian Border Check Point at Kapikule – the largest and busiest border crossing point in Europe – and saw first-hand the joint operational work to target organised crime, and the importance of close collaboration between the UK and its international partners on this issue.
This enhanced partnership also follows recent agreements with countries including Bulgaria and Georgia, as well as strengthened partnerships with France and Albania which have resulted in a 90% drop in Albanian small boat arrivals in the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period last year, and a 40% increase in the number of illegal crossing attempts prevented by the French last year, compared to the year before.
The deepened partnership between the UK and Türkiye includes support by the UK for a new centre based in Türkiye to be established by the Turkish National Police, which will act as a new operational “Centre of Excellence” to tackle organised immigration crime. The centre will build on existing collaboration between our law enforcement agencies and increase alignment of UK and Turkish intelligence, allowing operational staff to act more quickly on information.
A new memorandum of understanding will also cover the increase and quicker exchange of customs data, information and intelligence feeds between the UK and Turkish authorities, to further support our joint efforts to disrupt the small boats supply chain.
The 2 countries are also bolstering their resources to pursue these common goals. The centre will strengthen collaboration between NCA and Home Office Intelligence staff based in Türkiye and their Turkish counterparts; and the UK will deploy more officers in Türkiye to enable collaboration on joint operations to disrupt the criminal gangs who are facilitating illegal journeys.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman said:
As I’ve made clear, we must do everything we can to smash the people smuggling gangs and stop the boats.
Our partnership with Türkiye , 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.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:
Illegal migration is a global challenge, and this new partnership with Türkiye cements our 2 countries as foremost strategic partners, working together in the fight against organised immigration crime.
We will be intensively sharing intelligence, people and technology to disrupt and dismantle people smuggling gangs and the manufacture and supply of materials which enable small boat crossings.
Having met our partners in Europe, North Africa and indeed Türkiye recently, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits our increased cooperation has on stopping the boats. I am determined that the UK is a leading force in tackling illegal migration and a partner to all those allies who share our determination to defeat it.
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. It is estimated that hundreds of small boats and boat parts are transported through Europe each year for this purpose.
This will be supported through strengthened UK-Turkish engagement at a working level including through the next UK-Türkiye Migration Dialogue meeting taking place this autumn in London. Both countries also committed to raise the issue of illegal migration in international platforms.
This partnership marks the next step in the UK’s efforts to strengthen cooperation with international partners on the global challenge of illegal migration. This joint work with allies is a key strand of the Prime Minister’s plan to stop the boats, driving efforts upstream to clamp down on the criminality that enables illegal crossings to the UK.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Kingdom Home Office.