On Friday 23 April, officers from the Modern Slavery Organised Immigration Crime Unit, Roads Policing Unit, Response and Patrol, Neighbourhoods Policing Team joined up with Immigration Enforcement and Border Force at Fleet Services, M3 Northbound to carry out searches of HGVs to prevent organised immigration crime and to disrupt clandestine entry in the UK.
The term ‘organised immigration crime’ is used to describe both the facilitation of illegal entry into, and presence in, the country and also human trafficking.
The most common clandestine ways for migrants to enter the UK are in Lorries or other commercial vehicles transported by rail or ferry, in commercial shipping containers, or in small boats. Organised gangs frequently smuggle people in hard-sided Lorries, more opportunist smuggling tends to be in soft-sided Lorries. Most methods of transport subject migrants to significant personal risk.
Part of the work on Friday involved working closely with Border Force and supporting their Clandestine Entry Penalties Team.
It was also an opportunity for us educate drivers of haulier companies coming from overseas to the UK on how to implement better security in order to restrict clandestine entry and disrupt organised crime gangs.
In total, 38 HGVs were stopped and searched and we helped enforce four outstanding penalties previously applied by Border Force, to the value of £20,700. The penalty scheme is in place to encourage companies to increase security on their hard and soft sided Lorries. Luckily, no one was found in the back of the vehicles.
By working with Border Force and Immigration Enforcement, 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.
For more information about the work going on to tackle organised immigration crime please visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/campaigns-media/campaigns/say-no-to-people-smuggling