Over 500 foreign criminals and immigration offenders have been removed from the UK by the Home Office during September, it has been announced.
In total, 533 people were returned, including 105 to Albania on 3 dedicated charter flights and scheduled flights this month.
The Home Office also returned 26 Romanian nationals and 9 individuals to Zimbabwe on separate charter flights.
The news is set against the backdrop of more than 30,000 people arriving on small boats across the English Channel this year and a stalled attempt to process asylum applicants in Rwanda. The total for last year was around 28,000.
The Home Office said foreign national offenders removed had received combined prison sentences of more than 337 years and were convicted of crimes including sexual and violent offences, supplying Class A drugs and facilitating illegal entry to the UK.
More than 300 people who had no right to remain in the UK, including 3 Albanian nationals who entered the UK illegally – one via a small boat and two through other clandestine means – have also been removed.
Home Secretary, Suella Braverman said: “We are taking a zero-tolerance approach to anyone who comes to the UK and breaks our laws.
“Returning such a high number of dangerous criminals sends a clear message that they are not welcome here.
“We are also clamping down on those who come here illegally, and I am exploring every avenue to accelerate their removal.
“Since signing our returns agreement with Albania in 2021, we have removed over 1,000 Albanian criminals and immigration offenders, including some who crossed the Channel illegally to come to the UK.
To date this year, the UK has removed 8,175 people via enforced, voluntary and other return types, including 2,250 foreign national offenders.”
The Nationality and Borders Act will further deter illegal entry into the UK, breaking the business model of people-smuggling networks and speeding up the removal of those with no right to be in the UK.
Figures for recent returns totals are sourced from provisional operational data. Comprehensive statistics on returns are published in the Home Office quarterly immigration statistics and migration transparency data, and the latest available data was published on 25 August.
The Home Secretary, who has only been in post for a few weeks since her appointment by new PM Liz Truss, told the Daily Telegraph at the Conservative Party conference she saw the Rwanda flights as a “dream”.
The government hopes to deter migrants and people smuggling operations from taking perilous journeys across the English Channel by sending asylum applicants to the African country for process rather than in Britain.
Critics do not give the plan much chance of being implemented presently as it is already stalled in legal proceedings.
Braverman pledged a “total and undeniable and unfettered and unconditional commitment to doing whatever it takes” to bring down crossings
But she avoided locking herself into figures for a reduction in numbers, noting there were “no quick fixes and the problem is chronic”.
She said: “I will commit to you today that I will look to bring forward legislation to make it clear that the only route to the United Kingdom is through a safe and legal route.
“If you deliberately enter the United Kingdom illegally from a safe country, you should be swiftly returned to your home country or relocated to Rwanda. That is where your asylum claim will be considered.”
Tim Naor Hilton, CEO of Refugee Action, said: “These plans wilfully ignore the fact that it is a lack of safe routes into the country that pushes people into the hands of smugglers. Yet, instead of creating such routes, the Government is pulling up the drawbridge and turning its back on some of the world’s most desperate people.”