Albanian migrants crossing the Channel to face criminal records checks at Dover – The Telegraph

Police from the Balkan state stationed in the UK to check fingerprints and biometric data against criminal databases
Albanian migrants crossing the Channel face criminal records checks by police officers from their own nation stationed at Dover, it has emerged.
Home Office officials are due to meet senior Albanian police officers on Tuesday to agree the plans for officers from the Balkan state to cross-reference migrants’ fingerprints and biometric data with Albanian criminal databases.
Government sources said it would enable Border Force and immigration enforcement officers to identify and fast-track anyone deemed not “conducive to the public good” because of their criminal background to be removed and taken back to Albania.
Immigration officials are also using new legislation that took effect in June to detain and speed up the deportation of Albanians without criminal records, but whose asylum claims are judged to be “unfounded”.
The moves come after a surge in Albanians crossing the Channel in small boats. Home Office officials have said they now account for between 50 per cent and 60 per cent of arrivals. More than 25,000 migrants have reached the UK this year across the Dover straits, double last year’s rate.
It is understood the deployment of at least two Albanian officers to Dover has been proposed by Gledis Nano, general director of the Albanian state police, during a visit a month ago to meet National Crime Agency chiefs and Home Office officials.
All migrants are fingerprinted and photographed by Border Force on arrival. “This biometric data will enable officers to detect any Albanian wanted by Albanian police or who has a criminal background,” said a source. “They will have two laptops with all the systems and data that Albanian police have.”
It is modelled on a similar deal that Albania struck with France, where it posted police officers in five French cities to help combat Albanian organised crime gangs.
A Border Force source said: “This access would help us immensely, assuming there are no data protection or legal issues that would prevent the Albanian police from receiving biographic and biometric data captured by UK Border Force under UK law to check against their own records.
“It will not only enable us to identify who they are, but also if there are known criminals among them. However, there may be a risk in sharing information about asylum seekers with the government of the country they are claiming to fear persecution from – at least before the claim is assessed.”
The move is part of a wider agreement to remove criminals and illegal migrants to Albania struck by Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, last summer. As part of the deal, the UK has spent £1 million on a new police station at Rinas International Airport, in Tirana, to help process the returnees.
A delegation of four officers from the Albanian state police forensic laboratories is also due to meet Home Office officials on Tuesday to discuss UK funding to boost their capacity for DNA analysis and processing data.
Any migrant who has served more than a year in jail can be barred and removed from the UK under post-Brexit laws introduced in 2020. The Government also has the power to refuse entry on the grounds of “serious harm, persistent offending or where it is conducive to the public good”.
The Home Office is also using the Immigration Act to declare asylum claims from Albania as “unfounded”, because there is “no serious risk of persecution.” The migrants have no right of appeal and can be removed within 30 days.
“Those coming from Albania – a safe and prosperous country – are travelling through multiple countries to make the journey to the UK. Many then make spurious asylum claims when they arrive,” said a spokesman.
“Through the Nationality and Borders Act, introduced by the Home Secretary, asylum claims may be inadmissible if someone travels through a safe third country before reaching the UK.”
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