‘Established’ Albanian crime groups may cost UK £57million a year

Migrant crisis: Tory MP blasts Labour for ‘cagey’ argument

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The 1,336 Albanians currently serving jail time in England and Wales are costing taxpayers £57million per year, a report has claimed. The Sun looked at the average cost of keeping a prisoner which comes to £42, 670 a year, according to the Ministry of Justice. The debate about Britain’s immigration policies has remerged after Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick highlighted the number of Albanian migrants arriving in Britain this year. 

He said that of those arriving on small boats, “80 percent of the individuals are coming from Albania”.

In 2022, there has been a rapid increase in the number of Albanian migrants crossing the English Channel, with 50 arriving in 2020, 800 in 2021 and 12,000 arriving so far in 2022.

Dan O’Mahoney, the Clandestine Channel Threat Commander, said: “The rise has been exponential and we think that is in the main due to the fact that Albanian criminal gangs have gained a foothold in the north of France.”

Mr O’Mahoney also said while speaking to MPs about Albanian migrants: “There are undoubtedly people who need our help – but there is also a large number who are deliberately gaming the system.”

On Monday, the Sun reported that an Albanian organised street gang based in East London named Hellbanianz has been posting online and has accumulated nearly ten thousand followers on their social media pages.

Pictures of guns, money and expensive vehicles can be seen on their social media, according to the newspaper.

Members of the gang were also previously arrested after police found £6million in drugs in a house search.

A spokesman for the National Crime Agency has said criminal gangs are increasing in number and said: “Albanian crime groups have established a high profile and degree of influence within UK organised crime, and have considerable access to the UK drug trafficking market, particularly cocaine.”

The Deputy Director of the National Crime Agency, Andrea Wilson, has said the criminal drug market is a significant draw for people to come to the UK.

She said: “We have seen cases of trafficking, cases where people are debt-bonded.

“They’ve come to work off the cost of their journey to the UK. They are victims of trafficking – and we take modern slavery very seriously.”

Dr Ilir Gëdeshi, a migration expert who directs the Centre for Economic and Social Studies in Tirana, claimed poverty and not a crime is the leading cause of Albanians coming to the UK.

He said: “This talk of invasion, of gangs, it’s very wrong.

“If there had not been economic crisis in Greece or Italy, a lot would still be heading there.

“What is clear is that in the north it is poverty, the lack of any hope, that is behind this latest wave.”

Muhamed Veliu, an Albanian political respondent, called on the UK Government to issue more visas in order for people to migrate safely.

He said: “Only a small portion of people arriving on the boat end up in crime.”

Mr Veliu added: “The majority of them arrive in the UK because it’s a huge market that needs labour in building construction. It’s the level of salaries in the UK that attracts Albanians.”

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Last Monday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman caused controversy with Tirana when she referred to Albanians, are “criminals”.

She said: “If Labour were in charge they would be allowing all the Albanian criminals to come to this country, they would be allowing all the small boats to come to the UK, they would open our borders and totally undermine the trust of the British people in controlling our sovereignty,”

The remark has drawn criticism from the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, who has accused the UK Government of using his country’s citizens as a scapegoat. 

He wrote: “Targeting Albanians (as some shamefully did when fighting for Brexit) as the cause of Britain’s crime and border problems makes for easy rhetoric but ignores hard facts. Repeating the same things and expecting different results is insane (ask Einstein!).”

The Albanian leader added: [The] UK should fight the crime gangs of all nationalities and stop discriminating [against] Albanians to excuse policy failures.”

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