Illegal lorry immigrants caught once a fortnight
By Wayne Bontoft
Published Date: 26 October 2007
Source: Northampton Chron & Echo
Illegal immigrants are caught hiding in lorries in Northamptonshire once every fortnight.
Latest figures released by the police show 27 cases were reported in the past year more than one every two weeks.
The statistics were revealed during a special debate in the House of Commons, where Northamptonshire's problem with smuggling in lorries was discussed.
During the debate, the practice of asking illegal immigrants to make their own way to detention centres, which was exposed by the Chronicle & Echo last month, was branded a 'national disgrace'.
Kettering's Conservative MP, Philip Hollobone, said: “In places as land-locked as Northamptonshire, illegal immigrants are turning up on our doorstep, and it's causing huge concern to residents, particularly because of the advice the Border and Immigration Agency has given to Northamptonshire Police whenever they have apprehended those people.
“Members can imagine the concern in Northamptonshire that such people are being set free. Common sense says they should be detained.”
Last month, the Chron reported cases in the county where a group of 16 Iraqi men and five men from Africa were found hiding in the back of lorries driven into the county.
MPs labelled the fact they were told to make their own way to a detention centre in Croydon, 114 miles away, 'bonkers'.
Mr Hollobone said: “There is also an important point about the welfare of those poor individuals. There have been horrible examples of lorries packed with illegal immigrants in
dreadful conditions, and some people have died on their way into the country, which is why we need to secure our borders and ports.”
Other MPs from the county also asked the Home Office to recognise Northamptonshire's problems were caused because it is at the heart of the country's haulage distribution network.
In response, Home Office minister Meg Hillier promised to tackle the problem.
She said: “I agree the police should not have released those who were released, and we have ensured that will not happen again.
“The senior management at the Border and Immigration Agency have underlined to the regional directors who are now in place up and down the country, including for Northamptonshire, the need to treat so-called “lorry drops” as an operational priority.”
She also confirmed prison vans could be brought into the county to detain illegal immigrants after they have been caught.
Last Updated: 26 October 2007 8:18 AM