Lorry arrests spark alert over illegal immigration

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The Independent Online
Immigration officials were last night put on full alert over the New Year after three lorry loads of illegal immigrants were found to have entered the country. The Home Office has revealed that two lorries carrying up to 50 people had been stopped in Kent and Warwickshire over Christmas.

The announcement came as 16 immigrants were still being questioned after surviving sub-zero temperatures in a frozen food lorry loaded with chips. The 16 men - 15 Sri Lankans and one Bangladeshi - were hidden in gaps measuring just 18-24in between the ceiling of the lorry's refrigerated compartment and the stacks of boxes of frozen chips. They were discovered during a random search at Dover, Kent, after the lorry arrived from France last Sunday. A Home Office spokesman said the men, who had endured temperatures of -20C, would have frozen to death if they had remained in the lorry.

In the other incidents, 24 people were arrested after being seen climbing out of a lorry at Lenham Trailer Park near Maidstone, Kent, on 23 December. Another 23 people - including a six-year-old - were arrested after being spotted leaving a lorry at a service station on the M40 in Warwickshire.