Controversial Proposal: Electronic Bracelets for Migrants

Electronic bracelets, equipped with a GPS signal, to monitor migrants arriving in the United Kingdom and unable to be placed in detention facilities. The latest hypothesis in the management of migrants by the British government has caused quite a stir, as it is usually a measure reserved for criminals under house arrest. But, according to the British administration, there would be a good reason to introduce this law: the United Kingdom is currently flooded with migrants arriving in Great Britain and there are too few detention facilities. As happens in Italy, some people, after their arrival, disappear or go into hiding for fear of being rejected and repatriated by the local administration.

What is the British government proposing?

The authorities of the Home Office, an office equivalent to the Italian Ministry of the Interior, have been given the task of finding a solution to this problem and, among the various hypotheses, there is also that of electronic bracelets under consideration. In addition to this, there would be the possibility of subjecting people to the obligation to sign. The idea was introduced following the new law – the Illegal Migration Act – which provides for the government’s obligation to detain and repatriate anyone who enters the country illegally. This would also include those who would be entitled to political asylum, since there are legal and safe ways for them to request it. It is therefore a zero tolerance measure for those who enter and are in the UK illegally, approved and introduced last July.

The problem is that the current detention system can currently hold only 2,500 people, too few for the waves of hundreds of migrants that are troubling the UK. Those who do not end up in the appropriate structures then risk going into hiding, something the government wants to avoid at all costs, wanting to definitively block access to the country through illegal routes, repatriating migrants to their countries of origin or to third countries deemed safe.

Measurement problems

As reported by The Times newspaper, the problems represented by such a measure are on the one hand the price and on the other the possible legal implications: humanitarian organizations could, in fact, attack the measure saying that it limits the freedom of movement of migrants. To date, 175,000 requests for political asylum have been received by the United Kingdom and their management costs the government 4 billion pounds a year and, since it is money collected through taxes, the British citizens.

The increase in migrants is mainly due to the uncontrolled passage of the waters of the English Channel, carried out most of the time through small boats. Up to now, 19,000 migrants have reached the coasts of Great Britain by sea in 2023. Britain’s plans to expand the detention system meanwhile are proceeding slowly, with only 290 new places expected to be added by July 2024.

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Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.