Sunday, May 19, 2013
Jump off here for the UK: Looking like Casper the Ghost, migrants smuggled here inside a flour tanker... only to be set free by border officials and told how to claim asylum
Covered in flour, they clamber from a foreign lorry – to the amazement of other motorists on a busy motorway. This is the moment that at least nine suspected illegal immigrants emerged from their hiding place after smuggling themselves into the UK.
The gang brazenly strolled off into the English countryside. And although all were caught within minutes, almost half were immediately set free. They were even taken to a hostel, given free accommodation and told how to apply for asylum and benefits.
The graphic illustration of how Britain remains a soft touch for migrants occurred on the M26 in Kent this week. And it seems it was not a rare event. Kent Police say that for the past two years they have received on average one report a day relating to clandestine immigration.
The incident happened near the junction with the M25, as rush-hour traffic slowed to a crawl, and was photographed by a Daily Mail reader. The immigrants opened the hatch in the top of the German food tanker, which had apparently just arrived from France via the Channel Tunnel and was parked on the hard shoulder of the motorway.
They emerged one by one, then jumped down on to the ground in a shower of dust. Several witnesses called police, while the tanker driver was also apparently on the phone to the authorities as his stowaway passengers fled.
One caller told officers the flour-covered Middle Eastern fugitives would be easy to spot as they all ‘looked like Casper the Friendly Ghost’. They were picked up within the hour at the nearby village of Otford. But after Kent Police handed the nine men over to the Border Agency, four were allowed to go free.
The other five remain in detention ‘pending removal from the UK’ but may yet wage legal bids to stay.
It is believed the group had sneaked into the tanker – assumed to have been used previously for transporting flour or other foodstuffs – somewhere in France before being brought to England without the knowledge of the driver.
Lorry drivers face heavy fines for bringing illegals into the country, and the Border Agency – under fire for its failure to tackle unauthorised immigration – claims to have tightened security checks for stowaways, with specialist equipment to detect body heat or breath. But it seems the flow of people sneaking in continues regardless.
The Daily Mail reader who photographed the gang said: ‘I was just near the M25 when I saw this German lorry on the hard shoulder. The driver was talking on his mobile. Maybe he heard something inside his tanker, so stopped.
‘As I went past the tanker, I saw these people start coming out of the hatch on top. They were all covered in this white stuff that looked like flour, but seemed to be from the Middle East. They were a bit unshaven and shaggy.
‘They were not running across the fields, just walking slowly and smiling. I think they were happy because they managed to cross the border.’
Last night Kent Police said: ‘We were called at around 8.15am on Tuesday by several members of the public who reported seeing a group of men getting off a lorry on the westbound M26, near to where it joins the M25. The men were on foot, described as being covered in a white, flour-like powder.
‘Officers, assisted by sightings by members of the public, arrested nine men in the Sevenoaks area on suspicion of entering the country illegally. They have been taken to Dover and handed over to the UK Border Agency.’
The Border Agency said: ‘Immigration Enforcement officials were contacted by Kent Police after they attended an incident on the M26 on Tuesday.
‘Nine men – four Syrians, two Iranians, an Egyptian, an Iraqi and a Palestinian – were arrested at the scene on suspicion of immigration offences.’ But it admitted: ‘Four of the men – two Syrians, an Egyptian and an Iranian – have since been released on immigration bail while their cases are considered by the Home Office.
‘If they are found to have no right to remain in the UK they will face removal. The other men remain in immigration detention pending their removal from the UK.’
The Home Office said: ‘When suspected illegal immigrants found on lorries are arrested by police, we respond quickly.
‘We work closely with police to tackle illegal immigration. Where someone is found to have no legal right to remain in the UK we will take action to remove them.’
Last night a Home Office spokesman refused to discuss the nine arrivals in detail but suggested that the four who were set free would have been given transport to a hostel where they would be housed rent-free. They would be given information on how to apply for benefits for asylum seekers, which would start with cash payments of £36 a week, and be told to check in regularly to dissuade them from absconding again.
The Home Office spokesman claimed to have no figures for the number of clandestine arrivals caught in Kent – saying immigration control centres were in France and Belgium, not England.
Immigrants now make up 13% of the British population as it’s revealed more Europeans arrived in the UK in the past decade than in the previous 50 years
The number of migrants in England and Wales has doubled over the past decade, census figures have revealed.
They now make up one in eight of the population after more arrived between 2001 and 2011 than in the previous five decades put together.
The number living in the country is now 7.5million.
More than half of those arrived over the ten years since 2001, according to a national census analysis published yesterday.
The figures show 3.8million people came to Britain from abroad in the period – more than the 3.7million who came during the previous 50 years.
The breakdown comes from an analysis of the ten-yearly census carried out in March 2011.
The figures have already revealed that at the time there were almost half a million more people living in the country than previously suspected
The latest analysis provides a fresh illustration of the impact of the wave of immigration under the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
They come in the week former minister Lord Mandelson acknowledged the scale of migration encouraged by Labour had made life difficult for people who are now hard-pressed to find or keep jobs.
He said that in 2004 ‘we were sending out search parties for people to come’.
Sir Andrew Green of MigrationWatch said: ‘It is simply astonishing that the number of immigrants in the country should have been allowed to double in ten years.’
There were more than 4.6million people born abroad and officially considered to be immigrants in 2001.
Around 900,000 of them died, returned to their countries of origin, or moved on elsewhere over the subsequent decade.
According to the breakdown, nearly a third of the current immigrant population of the country arrived in just five years between 2004 and 2009 – the years after Poland and seven other Eastern European countries joined the EU.
About 2.4million people came to Britain over the five-year period, during which Labour ministers had predicted that Eastern European migrants would come at the rate of 13,000 a year.
The decade after 2001 also saw high immigration from countries outside Europe.
‘Over half of all residents born in Nigeria, South Africa and the United States arrived since 2001,’ the ONS report said.
‘For residents born in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh the decade 2001-2011 also had the highest percentage of arrivals.
‘By contrast 60 per cent of Jamaican-born residents arrived before 1981.’
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