CITY MP Flick Drummond has called on the government to ramp up port security in Portsmouth after a group of 28 illegal immigrants were caught in the back of a lorry.
The Portsmouth South MP is to arrange talks with the Home Office as she does not believe enough is being done to tighten up immigration controls and stop the city being swamped by people trying to seek a new life illegally in the UK.
She has pledged to take action after police pulled over a heavy goods vehicle off Walton Road, Drayton, at 10am on Saturday and discovered the migrants hiding in the back.
It comes a month after investigators for the NCA – the UK’s equivalent to the FBI – suspected that, as well as the main Channel crossing between Calais and Kent, criminal networks operating trafficking routes are starting to target quieter ports on the east and south coasts, in addition to the hotspot at Kent.
Speaking to The News, Mrs Drummond said: ‘I need to take this up with the Home Office and find out how we can improve controls at the port.
‘We put a lot of money into the Border Force and immigration. We have got to tighten up security at the port.
We have got a good economy, we have one of the fast growing economies, and people want to be part of it. But we have to tighten up our border controls.Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond
‘The issue with immigration won’t go away. We have got a good economy, we have one of the fast growing economies, and people want to be part of it.
‘But we have to tighten up our border controls.
‘We can’t sustain this level of immigration because of our hospitals and schools, they are at capacity.’
The refrigerated lorry is believed to have arrived on a ferry from France and was stopped in a lorry park close to the M27 when police swooped.
A bus driver, who had been at a nearby bus depot, described it as a ‘major police operation’.
He said: ‘A load of police cars came past after 9am so I went to have a look.
‘There was a white articulated lorry they were pulling away into a yard.
‘I couldn’t see where the lorry was from but I got a glimpse into the back and it was loaded with pallets.
‘I didn’t see any of the immigrants but it was a major operation.’
The Home Office has confirmed all 28 illegal immigrants, one of whom needed hospital treatment, are in police custody on suspicion of entering the UK illegally.
The nationalities of those involved, including the driver, have not been released.
The HGV driver has been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry into the UK.