People smugglers could face life sentences under Home Secretary Priti Patel’s plans to tackle the number of migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.
The Home Office said on Sunday that ministers would set out further details “in the coming weeks”.
The current maximum sentence for people smuggling is 14 years’ imprisonment, but the Times reported that Ms Patel is concerned that the average sentence received is three years.
A Home Office spokesman said: “Whilst criminal gangs continue to put lives at risk it is right we consider every option to stop their exploitation of people.
“The Government will set out further details in the coming weeks.”
On Saturday, four small boats carrying 87 people including children made the perilous Channel crossing into the UK.
The Home Office has said all adults who arrived in Dover were tested for Covid-19, and one person tested positive.
French authorities also prevented two attempted crossings involving a further 51 people on Saturday.
It comes as Ms Patel has come under criticism for housing asylum seekers at an ageing and Covid-hit military barracks in Kent.