Closed petition Publish daily updates on the number of Channel crossings

The Government should publish daily updates regarding the number of people entering the UK across the Channel by small boats. It has been reported that the Government is going to stop disclosing daily data, instead publishing the figures only every quarter.

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We believe reporting this data less frequently would amount to a major setback for transparency and democracy. This is important information for the public to have in order to be able to hold the Government to account on its promises to deliver border control.

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Government responded

This response was given on 22 March 2022

The Government publishes quarterly statistics on small boats and provides data to media on days when there are arrivals. No decision has been made on the approach to daily data going forward.

Read the response in full

We are seeing an unacceptable rise in small boat crossings and we will continue to focus all our efforts on tackling these dangerous Channel journeys.

The Home Office publishes a whole range of immigration statistics on a regular basis in its migration statistics collection.

The information in these publications is regularly reviewed in line with the Code of Practice for Statistics. Where it is clearly in the public interest to do so, we will publish new statistics and amend existing statistics to ensure they continue to provide transparency around key government policies and issues.

The Government fully recognises the importance of publishing comprehensive statistics, which is particularly important in an area such as small boat crossings, which is a ministerial priority and of interest to the wider public.

Following advice from the independent UK Statistics Authority on making sure statistics on small boat crossings are published in an orderly way, the Home Office published a quarterly statistics release on irregular migration to the UK, to provide a clear picture of the small boats issue to the public. The ‘Irregular migration to the UK’ report, which includes statistics on those arriving across the English Channel in small boats, was published for the first time on 24 February 2022.

The small boats data will form part of regular quarterly statistics reports going forward throughout 2022 and beyond.

The release includes statistics on the total number of small boat arrivals as well as additional breakdowns including nationality, gender and age and detections on other methods of irregular entry. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving data transparency and accessibility, and providing important additional context.

We are fully committed to publishing independent validated and comprehensive statistics in this way which is equally accessible to all and builds confidence in data on an area of great public importance and interest.

The decision to publish small boats figures in a quarterly report ensures regular statistics are released in an orderly, transparent way that is accessible to everyone, meeting the principles set out in the Code of Practice for Statistics.

The need for more statistics must be weighed up against other considerations. This includes the practicalities and costs of producing robust, assured data derived from operational systems, and presenting data in a way that enhances the public’s understanding of key issues. This involves putting the data into context and looking at the longer-term picture to ensure short-term fluctuations in the data are not over-emphasised, which can be misleading.

We must also ensure efforts to release data are proportionate, granting the public servants involved the flexibility to respond to the most important issues as they emerge and reflecting the best use of government resources. In the case of small boats, our immediate priority is the welfare of migrants. This means that data systems may not be immediately updated and are not designed to provide real time information. To do so increases the risk of providing inaccurate information.

Currently small boats numbers are issued to the media on days when there are crossings. This is operational data, not official statistics, and has not undergone the level of quality assurance of a formal statistics publication, and may therefore be inaccurate.

The Home Office continues to work with the UK Statistics Authority to ensure our approach to releasing information meets the expected standards for government statistics and continues to respond to the public interest. It recognises the public interest in this area and as yet, no decision has been made in regard to the more frequent release of small boat data. In the meantime, the Home Office continues to provide data upon request to media on days when there are small boat crossings.

Home Office

Other parliamentary business

MPs investigate Channel crossings, migration and asylum

The MPs on the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee have been investigating the reasons behind the growth in migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats, and the UK's response to these crossings.

The Committee has been looking at the role of criminal gangs in facilitating the growth of this form of illegal immigration and the response of UK and French authorities to combat illegal migration and support legal routes to asylum.

Report on Channel crossings, migration and asylum

In July, the Home Affairs Committee published a report on Channel crossings, migration and asylum, which concluded that there is no single solution to dealing with irregular migration. The Committee stated that evidence-driven, fully tested policies were most likely to deter dangerous Channel crossings.

The Government responded to the Committee's report last month, underlining its commitment to tackling illegal migration and stopping dangerous small boats crossings, and setting out its plans to achieve this.

Evidence session on Channel crossings

On 22 October the Home Affairs Committee held a further session where it questioned Home Office officials and the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration to examine the current situation with Channel crossings.

At the session MPs asked about:

  • recent data on Channel crossings over the summer and the response by UK border force and other agencies
  • the changing nationality profile of arrivals
  • progress in working with international partners to combat organised crime groups facilitating channel crossings

What is the Home Affairs Committee?

The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of backbench MPs that looks into the work of the Home Office and its associated public bodies.

The Home Affairs Committee is a select committee. Find out how select committees work.

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