The most common ways for migrants to attempt to enter the UK illegally are in lorries or other commercial vehicles transported by rail or ferry, in commercial shipping containers, or in small boats. People ate frequently smuggled by organised gangs in hard-sided lorries, while soft-sided lorries are more often the target of opportunist smugglers. In making these attempts, migrants are subject to significant personal risk.
Hampshire Constabulary’s specialist teams worked with Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, Bedfordshire Police and Thames Valley Police in and outside of Hampshire to raise awareness about this crime at the beginning of March. They advised people about the signs to look out for and encouraged the local community to report any suspicious behaviour or incidents.
Part of this work has been working closely with Border Force and supporting their Clandestine Entry Penalties Team on various road networks travelling northbound from UK ports. The roads policing teams, commercial vehicle unit, and neighbourhood policing teams worked collaboratively to stop lorries, and educate drivers and haulier companies coming from overseas to implement better security in order to restrict clandestine entry and disrupt organised crime gangs.
People smuggling costs lives and this collaborative work targeted criminals who are exploiting vulnerable people into being transported into the UK illegally through dangerous methods.
Of the 200 HGV stopped, no one was found in the back of these Lorries.
Hampshire Constabulary’s lead for Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime, detective chief inspector Ross Toms said, “Criminals are making cash by illegally smuggling desperate and vulnerable people into the UK through dangerous methods. By working with neighbouring police forces, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, service stations, and members of the public, we are doing all we can to tackle the issue together.
“It is important to remember that those who are smuggled are then often forced into modern slavery and other crime, having been promised a better life in the UK and forced to pay large amounts of money to get here, to organised crime gangs.
“There are also serious penalties for those caught helping to smuggle people into the UK in the back of lorries. They could be arrested and investigated and their employer could face substantial fines for not having appropriate security.
“We would advise anyone who thinks that there may be people trapped in a lorry or vehicle to report it to police immediately to 999 as a life could be put at risk.
“Following this action, we will continue to raise awareness about this crime, letting people know about the signs to look out for and encouraging the local community to report any suspicious behaviour to us – or independent charity Crimestoppers.”
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