THE Home Office has confirmed children as young as two and four were found among a large group of illegal immigrants in the back of a lorry in Portsmouth today.
A total of 31 people were found in the lorry in Quartremaine Road after a member of public made a concern for welfare call to the police, shortly after 8am.
Twenty-two men between the ages of 20 and 30 who presented themselves as Iraqi, three as Iranian and one man with an undeclared nationality, remain in immigration detention for further interviews.
Five unaccompanied minors, aged 16 to 17 and who presented themselves as Iraqi, were referred to social services.
A family group of four, including two children aged two and four, who also presented themselves as Iraqi were taken to hospital as a precaution.
They have since been discharged into the care of the police and will be released to report regularly to the Home Office while their case is progressed.
The Home Office said the immigrants did not arrive in Portsmouth through Portsmouth International Port.
It said all cases will be progressed in line with the UK immigration rules, and where someone has no right to remain in the UK, it will take action to remove them.
A Hampshire police officer at the scene, outside Portsmouth Enterprise Centre and near Airport Service Road, told The News this morning 32 men were found in the lorry.
Police and Border Force were at the scene for hours.
A Home Office spokesperson said: ‘At the juxtaposed controls and at ports around the country Border Force use some of the most advanced detection technology around to find and stop migrants attempting to reach the UK illegally.
‘The Sandhurst Treaty, signed by the Prime Minister in January, sets out enhanced joint action agreed by the UK and France to manage our shared border and tackle organised immigration crime.
‘This includes a commitment from the UK to invest an additional £44.5m to protect the shared border. Part of this is being spent to reinforce the security measures in and around smaller ports in northern France.’
The Home Office did not comment on how the immigrants entered the country or how the incident happened despite the procedures and checks in place.