Police tackle Organised Immigration Crime targeting HGV drivers at Burtonwood and Lymm services

POLICE took part in a multi-agency operation tackling Organised Immigration Crime targeting HGV drivers stopping at Burtonwood and Lymm services. The operation spanning three months, aimed to disrupt a crime that puts vulnerable people at risk of exploitation and harm becoming victims of Modern Slavery by using dangerous routes into, or out of, the UK. Police, Border Force, Immigration, driver vehicle standards agency and local authority, supported the Operation.

DS Darren Wright said: “Clandestine entry to the UK poses a significant risk of life to those who have been concealed in the vehicles and transported overseas to the UK and vice versa. “We recognise that many of the successful clandestine entry attempts involve road haulage vehicles due to the amount of hiding space in the vehicle, and the ease of movement in and out of the UK through legitimate and identified travel routes. “Organised crime groups also know this and exploit this method of movement in and out of the UK, and recruit complicit drivers to assist with the facilitation of illegal entry of people and goods.

“Sadly, many of who successfully gain illegal entry into the UK often end up becoming victims of modern slavery offences. Many will become subjected to further criminal exploitation, so it’s important drivers play their part in protecting vulnerable people by understanding the risks and knowing how to keep themselves safe from these criminal gangs.” Over three months, three two-day operations took place – supported by Cheshire roads policing unit, the commercial vehicle unit, DVSA, Cheshire drone unit, Immigration, border force and local authorities.

The operations were conducted at Burtonwood services on the M62 on 10 and 11 January, Poplars 2000 services on the M6 at Lymm on 10 and 11 February and again at Burtonwood services on 22 March.

HGV drivers were given advice and leaflets on how to avoid becoming victim to gangs making money from the illegal movement of vulnerable people by securing their vehicle.

Partners were also on hand to check drivers hours were being adhered to, lorries were roadworthy, and to ensure those who had travelled illegally were brought to safety and dealt with appropriately and sensitively.

In all, there were:
o 148 HGV’s stopped and checked for illegal immigrants.
o GBP11,200 in civil penalty fines recovered from hauliers having outstanding fines for previous clandestine found on their vehicles
o One Iranian clandestine surrendered to police at the scene and dealt with by Border force officers
o 96 fixed penalties issued for various offences totalling GBP18,750 in fines

DS Wright added: “These operations highlight the work we do 24/7 to disrupt criminals who use our road network to commit crime, and serve as a warning to criminals that we are out there policing the roads with our partners to disrupt illegal activity and make Cheshire a no go area for criminals.”