Priti Patel fumes over Dominic Raab people smugglers jail claim

Robert Jenrick announces new migrant housing in the PM’s constituency

Former Home Secretary Priti Patel has demanded tougher sentences for people smugglers after Justice Secretary Dominic Raab admitted that people prosecuted for the crimes were getting less than a year in prison. The Justice Secretary was talking to Kay Burley on Sky News ahead of an announcement today about illegal migrants being moved out of hotels into more basic accommodation including military camps and barges.

Ms Burley was pressing the Deputy Prime Minister over whether extra staff have been taken on to tackle the backlogs in dealing with asylum applications.

She asked: “How many people have you actually employed in addition to the ones who were already working at the Home Office to start processing?”

Mr Raab replied: “There’s a massive increase in case workers.”

But he went on: “I don’t know the numbers but I can tell you for example of the Nationality and Borders Act that we put in place and everybody said ‘what’s it going to deliver?’ 160 have been convicted, the combined sentences are over 100 years.”

Expressing his pleasure at the statistic which suggested people smugglers are getting less than a year in jail, he added: “So that was one measure we are taking.”

A Ministry of Justice source later confirmed to that there have been 162 convictions with a total of 108 years in prison between them.

Ms Patel raised the issue in a debate on the issue this morning.

She told that the sentences for human trafficking at the heart of the migrant crisis are not good enough.

Ms Patel said: “The Victims Bill must ensure that tougher sentences are given to those vile human traffickers.”

As Home Secretary, Ms Patel pushed through a series of reforms which saw tougher sentences for a range of offences as well as coming up with the Rwanda deportation policy to break the business model of human trafficking.

People smugglers responsible for the crimes are often involved with modern-day slavery, forced prostitution and other serious offences.

The issue has raised concerns with other MPs.

Conservative Dudley North MP Marco Longhi, a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “I haven’t seen the detail behind these numbers.

“A quick calculation suggests less than a year, but I suspect that there are degrees of punishment for degrees of crime.

“So it could well be that the ‘head of the snake’ receives a hefty jail sentence while lesser offenders receive less. That said, I am certainly going to look into this and seek clarity and assurances.”

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