English Channel dinghy crossings advertised by people smugglers on TikTok, probe shows
People smugglers use social media to advertise dinghy crossings across the Channel, charging as much as £5,500, a study has found.
A NL News research found that dozens of Albanian accounts on TikTok talk about getting the men, women and children from France to Britain and brag about it.
Pieces of footage show the journey, which starts in Albania and then goes to Brussels in Belgium.
After that, people travel through France, including Paris, Lille and Dunkirk. One of the clips posts a map of the coast that reads ‘water’ with a smiling emoji face.
An investigation by GB News revealed that dozens of Albanian accounts on TikTok are talking about getting the men, women and children from France to Britain and bragging about it
Pieces of footage show the journey, which starts in Albania and then goes to Brussels in Belgium. Pictured: A group of migrants takes to the sea in an inflatable dinghy to leave the coast of northern France in 2021
Other videos show how cramped the boats can get when the migrants wear life jackets.
On one of the accounts, asylum seekers are encouraged to send them a message via WhatsApp with a UK phone number on it.
Other clips on TikTok include the dates of crossings and images of people leaving France and getting into boats.
In addition, migrants pose for photos and do peace signs in front of cameras.
In the background you can see the Border Force ready to intercept the dinghies.
Accounts often include photos of the UK, including Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, to prove the successful journey.
Another clip posted last month, translated from Albanian to English, says: ‘Today we passed three rafts of 60 people from Dunkirk, heading the other way tomorrow.
‘£5,500 the way – we are the strongest group in France.’
Accounts often include photos of the UK, including Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament, to prove the successful journey. Pictured: Migrants call the Abeille Languedoc for help after their boat’s generator broke down in French waters while trying to illegally cross the Channel into Britain
And a separate similar post said, ‘We have a route every day until the end of July. We are the best group in France to pass people. Price is £5,000, DM for next route.’
Another said: ‘Only for £4,000, what are you waiting for? Leave today, contact us tomorrow in DM.
‘Every day direct line France – England at four o’clock.’
Meanwhile, another TikTok claimed it could get people from Brussels to the UK in ‘just one day’ for £4,550.
One account also offered customers a ‘Summer Sale’ for a discounted price of £3,500.
Meanwhile, another TikTok claimed it could get people from Brussels to the UK in ‘just one day’ for £4,550. Pictured: Migrants are rescued by crew members of the Abeille Languedoc ship after their boat’s generator broke down in French waters
The source who found some of the videos told GB News: “I’m just a normal member of the public and put myself down a rabbit hole on TikTok where I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
“There are videos of people pointing out how to contact them and when to go with their contact information. Even people filming themselves pass by and you can see Border Force in the background.
They added that it’s “incredible” that the information is there and easy to find if you start looking and wondered why the authorities weren’t doing anything about it.
It comes on Monday, 696 people crossed the Channel in small boats – the highest number in a single day this year so far.
It comes on Monday, 696 people crossed the Channel in small boats – the highest number in a single day this year so far. Pictured: one of the TikTok videos
The figure means that more than 17,000 have crossed the Channel this year, likely surpassing the 2021 total of 28,526.
Earlier, the Daily Mail reported that Albanian criminals charged up to £20,000 last year to smuggle migrants into the UK on TikTok.
It means that more than 17,000 have made the trip this year, meaning it is likely that the total of 28,526 in 2021 is expected to be surpassed.
These clips are against TikTok’s terms stating that users may not “post, livestream or otherwise distribute any content on the platform that constitutes, encourages, or instructs a criminal offense, or dangerous activities that could result in serious injury.” or death or self-suffering’.
Stricter rules for online content were included in the Online Safety Bill earlier this year, which classifies human smuggling as an additional priority illegal crime.
The bill aims to make companies more proactive when it comes to content and prevent people from being “exposed in the first place.”
The figure means that more than 17,000 have crossed the Channel this year, likely surpassing the 2021 total of 28,526. Pictured: A dinghy in the English Channel
Ofcom can also act more quickly against companies that do not remove illegal content.
A TikTok spokesperson said: “Our policy states that to prevent users from engaging in life-threatening activities or being exploited by others, content that depicts, promotes, coordinates or facilitates human trafficking is not allowed on TikTok.
“I am currently reviewing the content with the relevant language support, the flagged accounts are likely to be banned under the policy mentioned above.”
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said: ‘Posts used by people smugglers to promote deadly crossings are completely unacceptable and require social media companies to engage in dialogue to prevent their platforms from being exploited.
“The government is tackling this online misinformation and recently launched our own social media campaign to warn people about the risks of these deadly journeys and expose the lies being sold by inhumane smugglers to vulnerable people.”