Home Secretary Yvette Cooper has today set out the first steps to establishing a new UK Border Security Command (BSC).

This will strengthen Britain’s border security and smash the criminal smuggling gangs making millions out of small boat crossings.

Rapid recruitment for an exceptional leader used to working in complex and challenging environments, for example, at senior levels of policing, intelligence or the military, will kick off tomorrow (Monday 8 July), with the new recruit expected to take up their post in the coming weeks.

Reporting directly to the Home Secretary, the Border Security Commander will provide strategic direction to work across agencies, drawing together the work of the National Crime Agency (NCA), intelligence agencies, police, Immigration Enforcement and Border Force, to better protect our borders and go after the smuggling gangs facilitating small boat crossings.

Following the Home Secretary’s instruction, a core team in the Home Office is establishing the remit, governance and strategic direction of the new command. Early legislation is being prepared to introduce new counter terror style powers and stronger measures to tackle organised immigration crime.

She has also commissioned a bespoke investigation from the department and the NCA into the latest routes, methods and tactics used by people smuggling gangs across Europe to inform a major law enforcement drive over the coming months.

The BSC will draw on substantial additional resources, with work to bring in more investigators, experts and analysts to tackle organised immigration crime starting on Monday. A significant number of these will be based across Europe, working with Europol and European police forces to disrupt the activity of the criminal smuggling gangs and ensure those profiting from people smuggling are brought to justice.

In a call to the Director General of the NCA, Graeme Biggar, the Home Secretary stressed the need to break the business model of the criminal smuggling gangs, going after their ability to communicate, move people across Europe and their profit.

The Home Secretary will have further calls this week with European interior ministers and with the Director General of Europol to discuss strengthening security cooperation.

Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, said:

Criminal smuggling gangs are making millions out of small boat crossings, undermining our border security and putting lives at risk. We can’t carry on like this. We need to tackle the root of the problem, going after these dangerous criminals and bringing them to justice.

The Border Security Command will be a major step change in UK enforcement efforts to tackle organised immigration crime, drawing on substantial resource to work across Europe and beyond to disrupt trafficking networks and to coordinate with prosecutors in Europe to deliver justice.

Work is underway to bring in a Border Security Commander to lead this work – and we will begin recruitment on additional capacity in the National Crime Agency immediately.

Published 7 July 2024