Hampshire police help to stop 200 lorries and enforce £70,000 in fines in effort to tackle human trafficking
POLICE have targeted service stations in Portsmouth and stopped hundreds of lorries across the south as part of a week of action against people smuggling.
Officers undertook vehicle checks and visited service stations across Hampshire, Bedfordshire, and the Thames Valley from Monday, March 1 to Friday, March 5.
The week’s activity saw Hampshire and Thames Valley police stop a total of 200 lorries – and collect more than £70,000 in outstanding fines related to illegal border crossings.
Officers visited 10 service stations in Portsmouth to educate and warn lorry drivers and members of the public about people smuggling.
Other areas targeted included roads and service stations across Reading, Tot Hill, Toddington, and Newport Pagnell, which are often frequented by lorry drivers heading north from ports along the south coast.
One lorry was seized by Border Force at Newport Pagnell as its driver refused to pay a fine.
Anyone working around Portsmouth International Port and surrounding service stations should be aware of the signs of people smuggling, including suspicious noises coming from a lorry, according to Detective Chief Inspector Ross Toms.
Det Insp Toms, who is Hampshire Constabulary’s lead for modern slavery and organised immigration crime said: ‘Criminals are making cash by illegally smuggling desperate and vulnerable people into the UK through dangerous methods.
‘We would advise anyone who thinks that there may be people trapped in a lorry or vehicle to report it to police immediately to 999 as a life could be put at risk.
‘Following this week of action, we will continue to raise awareness about this crime, letting people know about the signs to look out for and encouraging the local community to report any suspicious behaviour to us - or independent charity Crimestoppers.’