On September 15th last year, Ahmed Hassan planted a bomb on a London Underground train. His homemade device exploded at Parsons Green station, injuring 30 people. The next day the 18-year-old was at the Port of Dover, waiting to board a ferry to France. Thanks to the excellent work of Kent Police, he was stopped before he could flee the country.
Last week he was jailed for life. Our brave officers played a key role in ensuring that Hassan has been brought to justice.
Yet serious questions must be asked about how he was able to get into the UK and allowed to stay on our shores. The court heard that Hassan followed the journey taken by so many migrants across Europe to the Calais Jungle. He admitted to being from a wealthy part of Iraq – but was advised by others at the camp to make up a story in order to gain entry to the UK. He told the court this sort of deception was widespread.
Hassan eventually broke into Britain in the back of a lorry. Then, astonishingly, he was granted asylum despite telling officials he had been trained by ISIS. Two years later he was planting his bomb on a tube train.
This underlines yet again the evils of the Calais Jungle. At its worst, 10,000 people were living in squalor. Ruthless traffickers lurked around every corner and caused chaos for tourists and truckers on a daily basis. This is why it was so vital we got the camp dismantled – and why it must never return.
It is also why I have long campaigned for stronger borders. We need to ensure we have investment – particularly at the Dover frontline – in technology, data sharing and skilled officers to stop dangerous individuals at the border.
Here in Dover and Deal, we know people will go to incredible lengths to get into our country. But probably the most abhorrent method of all is through immigration marriage fraud. I've been helping two local women whose husbands left them shortly after coming to the UK on spouse visas.
Kim Sow believes her husband was already married to two women – while Carol Sahni found out her husband returned to India to marry someone else within months of arriving. Across Britain thousands of people like Kim and Carol are being shamelessly exploited by people who want to sneak into our country. We need to throw the book at them and put a stop to it.
In all these cases there was a failure to do the proper checks before people were allowed into Britain. The truth is, for too long we were seen as a soft touch. We've been working hard to put that right. Dismantling the Calais Jungle has made a huge difference, with the number of attempts to break into Britain plummeting. Yet with reports of numbers in Calais rising in recent months, we must remain vigilant.
With Brexit just around the corner too, investing in our borders and taking back control has never been more vital.
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