Prime minister Rishi Sunak also announces agreement to increase voluntary cooperation between law enforcement and social media companies as government turns to tech to support ongoing ‘stop the boats’ agenda
Government has unveiled a new multimillion-pound unit to target the online operations of those offering illicit small-boats channel crossings.
Backed by £11m of funding, the Online Capability Centre will bring together “highly trained technical specialists alongside law-enforcement officers and will work by building a clearer picture of the scale of illegal immigration material online”.
The centre, which will be jointly run by the Home Office and the National Crime Agency will work with websites and tech firms to identify and remove such material, as well as “building a bank of intelligence around the criminal networks who are promoting people smuggling services online”, according to the government.
- Home Office signs £23m software support deal for key immigration system database
- IT issues with Home Office casework system have halved in recent months, immigration minister claims
- Home Office signs £8.5m deal to expand use of immigration casework prioritisation tool
Alongside the creation of the centre, prime minister Rishi Sunak announced the agreement of a new “voluntary partnership between social media companies and government”.
This partnership will see online outfits put in place “a range of commitments to explore increased collaboration… with the National Crime Agency to find and remove criminal content and step up the sharing of best practice both across the industry and with law enforcement”, the government said.
Sunak added: “To stop the boats, we have to tackle the business model of vile people smugglers at source. That means clamping down on their attempts to lure people into making these illegal crossings and profit from putting lives at risk. This new commitment from tech firms will see us redouble our efforts to fight back against these criminals, working together to shut down their vile trade.”
Addressing the issue of small boats was earlier this year nominated by the PM as one of his five priorities for 2023.