People smuggling

The appeal of a better life in the UK, combined with political instability, economic pressures and environmental issues at home are crucial factors in many migrants' decision to come to and remain in the UK.

The majority of illegal migrants are thought to rely on organised crime groups when coming to the UK, or during their time here. 

Criminals involved in immigration crime operate in various ways; some may act alone or be part of a small group, whilst others form extensive global networks with members based in a number of countries to facilitate illegal migration.

The producers and suppliers of false travel and supporting documents are also key specialists in this criminal market.  Counterfeit and forged documents are used in illegal immigration by air. They are also used by criminals for fraudulent visa applications, applications for leave to enter and for leave to remain.  Fake documentation is also used to make applications for legitimate travel documents, which the applicant would otherwise not be eligible for.

Organised crime groups assist illegal immigrants to attempt entry to the UK clandestinely or overtly by the abuse of legitimate means of entry and use a variety or methods and routes to do this. There are key gathering points on these routes where the facilitators and smugglers congregate.  Turkey is a key point for illegal migrants, Greece is the principal gateway into the EU from Turkey and France is the main point for clandestine entry into the UK.  Attempts to enter the UK by illegal methods remain focused on South East ports.

Criminals also assist migrants to enter and regularise their stay in the UK illegally by establishing bogus colleges, organising sham marriages and exploiting a range of other migration categories. Document forgers, money launderers and corrupt professionals such as solicitors, are involved in this activity.

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