More than 730 suspected illegal immigrants arrested in Hampshire in past three years

Police on an immigration raid
Police on an immigration raid

CCTV released after woman’s bag is stolen

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MORE than 700 suspected illegal immigrants have been arrested in Hampshire over the past three years.

The figure emerged in a Freedom of Information Act request that showed 27,800 people suspected of illegally entering the country have been appreneded since 2013.

Figures obtained by the BBC showed arrests of those illegally entering the UK have steadily increased, rising from 7,700 in 2013 to 9,600 in 2015 as the European refugee crisis deepens.

The total number of 27,800, which includes the first quarter of this year, comes from responses to a request under the Freedom of Information Act by 39 police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It does not include those detained at ports or airports, or those arrested after outstaying what their visa allowed, the BBC said.

Many of those held were picked up at places such as truck stops and motorway service stations after entering the UK hidden in lorries.

Hampshire Police said that 731 suspected illegal immigrants had been arrested during the three-year period, with the 12-month figure showing a rise each year.

In June 2013 - May 2014 it was 149, in June 2014 - May 2015 it was 212 and in June 2015 - May 2016 it was 370.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said the figures were at odds with the Government’s claim that it had “water-tight security at our borders”, and instead showed they are not secure.

He told the BBC: “If 27,000 people have been arrested for entering the country illegally by our police forces, then it shows that this problem is even worse than we had anticipated and we expect urgent action to be taken.”

The Home Office said it would take action to remove someone who is found to have no right to remain in the UK.

A spokesman said: “As part of the ongoing action we are taking to secure our borders, we have invested tens of millions of pounds to bolster security at ports in northern France.

“We are also committed to finding long-term solutions to the problem of illegal migration, which is why we created the Organised Immigration Crime Taskforce last year to work with law enforcement and international partners to target the organised crime gangs behind people smuggling.”

A Downing Street spokesman said: “Obviously border security remains a major priority for the Government. Our borders are strong and we will continue to work to make sure they are strong.

“We are working across Europe to make sure that the gangs that facilitate the movement of these people across Europe and into the UK are tackled.”

He added: “I think the arrangements we have in place are proving to be effective, but we are not complacent about border security or border control and that is why we are constantly reviewing the procedures we have in place and seeking to improve them where they need improving, and that work will continue in the future.”