The Next Generation of Migrant Hunters?

Right Response Team - 07 05 24

Tech-savvy videographers who cut their teeth in the “auditing” scene have moved into “migrant hunting”.

Combining improved video production with a desire for confrontation, they are changing the look and feel of the movement.

Social media trends are where originality goes to be recycled. The social media element of anti-migrant activism in 2024 is no different, and is witnessing an increasing convergence of two of the most irredeemable trends of recent years: “migrant hunting” and “auditing”.

The UK’s auditors spend their days filming around city centres, businesses and sites of interest (to them) for social media. The aim is simple: to provoke employees, police and members of the public into arguments while riling up their online followers to generate social media engagement and, where possible, YouTube advertising revenue. For the auditors, escalating an interaction with shopping centre security, for example, into some form of confrontation is the holy grail. The more hostile, the better.

Auditors view themselves as “citizen journalists”, shining a light on supposedly unreported stories, and as a source of “objectivity and truth” in opposition to “biased” mainstream media. In reality, though, their content is entirely shaped by their own perspectives on the world.

Their tactics and framing bear many similarities to the “migrant hunters”, individuals who film at temporary migrant accommodation sites, and frequently attempt to bait security, other staff and the residents themselves into a confrontation, again for increased social media engagement. Again far from objective observers, the “migrant hunters” are motivated by a hostility towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, who are perceived as receiving preferential treatment.

Of late, this crossover has become more pronounced, with a number of the generally more tech-savvy auditors spreading into migrant hunting. In fact, of the 15 UK-based auditing channels analysed by HOPE not hate, 11 have engaged in some form of migrant hunting over the past 12 months. Those analysed were selected as they span the breadth of the UK auditing scene, from localised accounts with fewer than 10k subscribers all the way up to the scene’s “key” figures – national accounts with over 60k subscribers.

A group of UK auditors met up for the 2024 St George’s Day demonstration in London organised by Tommy Robinson’s close associate, Danny Tommo. 
Left-to-right: West Audit Report, DJE Media, Auditing Yorkshire (front left), DJ Audits, Ryan Rampage, Unknown, The Gwent Auditor (back sunglasses), Joe Vloggs

Some, like Marti Blagborough and Midlands Audits, have dipped a toe making between 5 and 10 migrant hunting videos so far in that year period. However others have been more extensive. DJE Media and Bare Britain Audits, for example, have made over 135 migrant hunting videos between them. In virtually all cases, this has manifested as temporary accommodation visits, directly mimicking the tactics used by the more established migrant hunters since their appearance in 2020. Several auditors who have made the transition to migrant hunting have been rewarded with larger views thanks to the current focus on refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in British politics

This is blurring the lines between a pointless and irritating pastime and an established and malicious form of far-right activism. In doing so, it is changing the look and feel of the migrant hunting movement in 2024 and, worryingly, opening it up to new audiences.

“Photography is not a crime”: the similarities

Whilst some individuals from both groups focus on a specific area, such as the Midlands, Yorkshire or Lancashire, others cast their nets wider, prepared to travel to make their content. The result, according to our analysis, is that the move to national content-generation generally yields improved subscriber counts. The same can be said for the migrant hunters, with the more well-known figures in the movement being the individuals who cover larger geographic areas.

The auditors and migrant hunters share several other commonalities. Among the most important is their grasp of aspects of UK law, particularly as it relates to filming in public and on private land, plus the rules of trespass, assault and so on.

For the auditors, the freedom to film in public is not simply a safety net, but is something to be exercised as often as possible and to be pushed right up to any and all limitations. As such, the refrain of “photography is not a crime” acts both as a foundational principle and as the auditors’ calling card.

YouTube “auditor” Marti Blagborough has occasionally engaged in “migrant hunting”

Invariably, this leads to clashes with security and other staff, and also police, who themselves often appear unaware of the laws that they are supposed to be upholding. Again, these interactions are the golden ticket to larger views.

A second crossover between auditors and migrant hunters, one that is ubiquitous in both groups, is the continuous use of “cry-bully” tactics. 

The self-righteous abuse doled out by both groups is coupled with long periods of playing the victim when intercepted and challenged. This is then subsequently reframed as auditors being on the receiving end of abuse, and is used as the video’s narrative hook. This is despite an inherently confrontational and often explicitly hostile form of “activism” which frequently becomes extremely invasive.

Joe Gough (aka “Joe Vloggs” (off camera)) can often be seen playing the victim

Generating increased viewing figures, this approach is blending back into the migrant hunter movement, with more established far-right activists explicitly using a similar format.

For the migrant hunters, however, ordinary staff at temporary accommodation sites (e.g. receptionists, cleaning staff etc) are an additional target. Such individuals frequently (and understandably) oppose being filmed by migrant hunters, are lambasted for simply doing their jobs, and have their working lives made harder than they already are.

Amanda Smith (AKA “Yorkshire Rose”) also deploys “cry-bully” video titles

The steadfast belief shared by both auditors and migrant hunters is that theirs is a noble cause, and that said cause is worthy of being advanced without consequences. Those that come between them and “the truth” are, therefore, not just the villains of each episode, but are considered enemies of the public more broadly; facilitators of a grand conspiracy, and as “tyrants” who block free speech and “journalistic” endeavours.

Newer developments

Thus far, migrant hunting has been dominated by two individuals: Alan Leggett (“Active Patriot”) and Amanda Smith (“Yorkshire Rose”), both long-time far-right activists and responsible for hundreds of hours of footage between them.

The pair have rigidly stuck to the same formula for several years, with the quality of Leggett’s output nose-diving recently as newcomers streak ahead. Their approach consists of low (and even extremely low) production values and carbon copy encounters, with an overall energy level that can only be characterised as lethargic. For Leggett and Smith, theirs is a rough-and-ready approach; videos are streamed live or uploaded raw and generally unedited, with large sections of videos often passing with next to nothing occurring.

In contrast, younger newcomers from the auditing scene have entered migrant hunting equipped with a style that is more reflective of broader social media video trends. This starts with eye-catching YouTube thumbnails often depicting the villains of the encounter (e.g. security or migrants) and the frequent use of theme music and/or stylised logo animations. Whilst this might seem standard to YouTube audiences today, it has previously been rare in the world of migrant hunting.

A stylised logo animation on the channel of The Gwent Auditor

The videos themselves are also generally shorter and punchier than those produced by the first wave of migrant hunters, facilitated by much more judicious editing and a tonal shift. This is characterised by higher energy commentary and an emphasis on both “entertainment” and action.

In many ways, the auditors have introduced a degree of gamification into the movement. Trips are often framed as though they are missions to be completed, with tactics developed to gain access to temporary migrant accommodation sites, deal with security/police, uncover “the truth” and generate the ideal type of content for their channel.

A case in point

Despite having among the smallest followings of the auditors-turned-migrant hunters analysed for this piece, Joe Gough (AKA “Joe Vloggs”) from Stoke-on-Trent is emblematic of how this scene has developed.

Joe Gough (aka “Joe Vloggs”) is an auditor that has moved into migrant hunting

Gough began his YouTube life predominantly auditing Stoke and the surrounding areas. However, following his video “MIGRANT HOTEL CALL THE POLICE ON ME!!”, with which he has racked up 21k views (over 10 times his previously highest view count), Gough made the explicit turn towards migrant hunting. 

For this, his engagement has ballooned. Between the end of January 2024 and the end of March 2024, Gough had added over 3k subscribers to his YouTube channel, whilst views skyrocketed.

The views on Gough’s channel have grown dramatically following the turn to migrant hunting

Far more“entertainment”-oriented than Leggett or Smith, Gough’s style is high energy, well-made, self-righteous and confrontational, a combination that appeals to the anti-migrant movement.

Gough’s approach is more invasive than others too, for example examining hotel bins in an attempt to find evidence of wrongdoing or preferential treatment towards migrants, or even using a video camera zoom to catch a glimpse of people through hotel room windows.

Simultaneously, his output has become heavily inflected with far-right rhetoric, using video titles such as ‘MULTICULTURALISM AND CULTURAL ENRICHMENT OR JUST BEING WIPED OUT !!!’ (a coded reference to the “Great Replacement” conspiracy), ‘IMPORT THE THIRD WORLD BECOME THE THIRD WORLD’ (a common slogan on the far-right) and ‘MIGRANT HOTEL-ONLY THE BEST FOR THE ILLEGALS’. 

Content such as this attracts the usual racist bile in the comments section and on his social media. Gough himself is extremely active in community-building on his channel, taking the time to respond to a vast number of posts, and positively agreeing with all manner of grotesque comments.

Gough is not one to discourage racist outbursts from followers

Finally, Gough is an adept deployer of the aforementioned “cry-bully” tactics for his own gain. Frequently accompanied on visits by his brother Chris and videographer friend ST Audits, both of whom often wear balaclavas, the trio cut a menacing group when approaching sites and their security. 

Any understandable pushback from those confronted by Gough and associates is often met with claims of tyrannical behaviour, assault and other such complaints. This then becomes the video’s hook, with Gough seeking sympathy for what he believes is unfair persecution for his entirely blameless actions.

Virtually every video contains a heated argument or confrontation of some description. Gough said in March that he was “starting to get more and more irate as I video these hotels”, making it ever more likely that future filming trips will escalate to worrying degrees.


Anti-migrant activism remains in flux. Whilst the number of migrant hunter actions in 2023 dipped on the previous year, the constant churn of content remains an important backbone to the wider movement.

Auditors moving into migrant hunting therefore brings with it an increase in the volume of content and also draws newer audiences into the grim world of migrant hunting, but it is also changing the feel of it, with more stylised output positioning it as akin to an entertainment product.

As we move towards better weather and a General Election, we should expect an increase in migrant hunting across the board as the issue of migration will remain foregrounded in British politics.


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