Great Britain

Would people smugglers ever actually receive life sentences?


very time a people trafficker loads a refugee or an economic migrant on to a flimsy dinghy and launches them into the English Channel, they are passing a potential death sentence on those they exploit. Should the people traffickers themselves not be subject to a commensurate sentence of life imprisonment? It is already a serious offence, carrying a jail sentence of 14 years as a maximum.

However, the home secretary, Priti Patel, is not satisfied with how this has worked in practice, pointing to what she says is an average sentence of three years. Natural justice might demand a more punitive sanction.

Patel also has highly attuned political instincts for what her party and its electoral base would wish to see. Immigration is obviously an issue that has climbed up the political agenda during the Brexit process, and the home secretary must be aggrieved to see Nigel Farage and his Reform Party making political capital out of the continuing arrival of migrants at the shores of Dover.

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