Newly released small boats figures show the number of Albanian migrants arriving in the UK has dramatically fallen—with Afghans, Iranians and Turks overtaking illegal arrivals.
According to the Home Office’s latest Illegal Migration Act tables, just 143 Albanians crossed the English Channel in the third quarter of this year so far, down from 257 the previous quarter.
The figures, up to July 2023, show that 683 migrants arrived from Afghanistan for the same period—down from 1,310 the previous quarter.
Those making the perilous journey from Turkey are recorded at 370, down from 989.
While 263 illegal immigrants arrived from Iran, down from 813.
However, the incomplete statistics are expected to rise after the record-breaking figure of 755 migrants who crossed the Channel on Thursday—the highest daily number so far this year.
Last year, a record 12,301 Albanians reached the UK on small boats, representing a quarter of the total of 45,755.
The Home Office figures also reveal that forced deportations of Albanian illegals have more than doubled, with 1,207 returned to their home country this year so far—up from 681 for the last three quarters of 2022.
This was accompanied by 1,510 voluntary returns to Albania, up from 810 in the same period.
The significant rise in deportations this year comes months after the government signed a “groundbreaking” prisoner transfer agreement with the Balkans country.
Under the new arrangement, 200 Albanian nationals in prisons in England and Wales serving sentences of four years or more will be sent back to see out the remainder of their terms in Albanian prisons while helping to modernise prisons in Albania.
The latest immigration figures also record the first-ever drop in skyrocketing asylum backlog cases.
At the end of July, 136,779 cases are recorded in the system—down from 138,700 the previous month.
The figure is the first decrease in asylum backlog since March 2022 when the Home Office began recording the cases on a monthly basis. Back then, the figure stood at 89,344.
On Friday, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the government was “on track” to clearing the legacy asylum backlog as it announced that courts would be working at full capacity to deal with the numbers.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the government is extending a separate capacity boost first announced in December to allow the Immigration and Asylum Tribunals to work through asylum appeals as quickly as possible and remove unnecessary delays while cases are considered.
Separately, Mr. Chalk said a bar on capping judicial “sitting days” will mean the Crown Court can hear the highest possible number of criminal cases this year.
He said: “This government knows victims want to see justice served as quickly as possible and so we are making sure Crown Court judges can hear as many cases as possible this year.
“We have a world-leading justice system and a legal sector that is a cornerstone of our economy, and we should have modern, fit-for-the-future court buildings that reflect these high standards.”
The MoJ said the Crown Court worked for more than 100,000 sitting days across the country last year after the caps in place before the COVID-19 pandemic were removed.