Tuesday, May 21, 2024

UK arms Albania with £1.6m worth of tech to catch people smugglers

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Britain has armed Albania with £1.6 million worth of cameras and drones to catch Channel people smuggling gangs at source.

Immigration minister Michael Tomlinson revealed the new deployment in an exclusive interview with The Telegraph from Albania, in which he declared: “Stopping the boats doesn’t just start in the English Channel, stopping the boats starts at source here in the Western Balkans, in Albania.”

The high-tech drones have been used to spot the criminals as they attempt to evade border police by using narrow mountainous roads to sneak in and out of Albania. An infrared capability is being developed to allow night-time deployment of their cameras.

The technology is part of a surveillance network that also includes Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras installed on the Albania-Kosovo border to recognise British vehicles which have previously been used by people smugglers seeking to avoid detection by the local police.

Their number plates can now be fed back to British police to search their records and help identify members of Albanian criminal gangs based in the UK. 

Hundreds of Albanians who have crossed the Channel have been recruited to work in cannabis farms, where Albanians have usurped the Vietnamese as kingpins in the production of the drug.

Mr Tomlinson said: “The drones are hugely important in the countryside around the borders which is mountainous with dangerous routes across them. 

“The number plate recognition means we can liaise with our teams in the UK, track the plates, see who is coming in, going out and make seizures as well.”

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