Braverman quizzed on what 'stop the boats' pledge means

Video report by Harry Horton; words by Lewis Denison

Rishi Sunak's pledge to "stop the boats" means a "dramatic reduction" in the number of illegal channel crossings, the home secretary has told ITV News, but she would not put a timescale on the commitment.

The policy has become one of the prime minister's top five priorities but under repeated questioning from ITV News, Home Secretary Suella Braverman was unable to qualify what achieving that goal would actually mean.

"Stopping the boat means fixing our problem relating to illegal migration. Last year we saw over 40,000 people arrive via small boats on the channel to the United Kingdom. We need to stop that," she said.

So far this year, some 1,442 migrants have crossed the Channel to the UK, according to Home Office figures and a record 45,755 succeeded in making the trip last year.

Suella Braverman on what Rishi Sunak's pledge to 'stop the boats' means:

The home secretary said she was "very confident" in the government's plan to stop illegal immigration - with the threat of deportations to Rwanda forming one deterrent - and she insisted there would be a "dramatic reduction in the numbers arriving" but would not commit to stopping the crossings completely.

"You can judge me on results. Words don't matter. We have told you that we want to stop the boats. You will come here in a year or so and you'll be very clear whether we've succeeded or not," she said.

But moments later she added: "I'm not going to put a time scale on it, but what I am going to say, is it's going to take as long as it will take."

Downing Street said earlier this week that proposals for cracking down on the crossings are due to be published “fairly soon”.

Ms Braverman was visiting Brighton Police Station to discuss Sussex Police's plan to cut anti-social behaviour in the area, telling ITV News Political Correspondent Harry Horton that increasing police numbers will help to reduce the problem.

Last year, a record 45,755 migrants succeeded in crossing the English Channel. Credit: PA

She also insisted the government was on course to meet its target of recruiting 20,000 new officers by the end of this Parliament.

But that commitment poses another problem: how to ensure problematic police officers are not recruited in the drive to boost numbers.

It was put to Ms Braverman that the same vetting processes that allowed rapist David Carrick and murderer Wayne Couzens to join the Met Police are still in place.

She said "standards must be raised" and vetting procedures were being improved, adding: "I'm not going to say that we have fixed the problem yet".

"Vetting is being changed to raise the standards so that there are more rigorous processes in place to check people through the recruitment process. We're also going to look in depth into the Carrick case to see exactly procedurally what went wrong."

Asked if recruiting officers should be sacked for hiring problematic police, she said: "If errors have been made, they will be disciplined...I want to see the right response for whatever errors or mistakes have been made."

The home secretary was also asked about the death penalty, after newly-appointed deputy party chairman Lee Anderson backed it to return.

"I don't support restoring the death penalty to the United Kingdom," Ms Braverman said, "I think that we have an appropriate sentencing policy".

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Mr Anderson raised eyebrows with his comments, when telling the Spectator Magazine that "nobody has ever committed a crime after being executed. You know that, don’t you? 100% success rate".

Prime Minister Sunak rejected Mr Anderson’s calls for the return of capital punishment when asked on Thursday.

“That’s not my view, that’s not the government’s view,” the Prime Minister told reporters during a visit to Cornwall.

“But we are united in the Conservative Party in wanting to be absolutely relentless in bearing down on crime and making sure people are safe and feel safe.”

Mr Sunak added that the government had “tightened up sentencing laws for the most violent criminals, they spend longer in prison”.