Almost 300 lorries were stopped as part of a week of action targeting illegal immigration and human trafficking
Bedfordshire Police worked with Border Force, Immigration Enforcement, Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary, to raise awareness and combat organised immigration crime at Toddington Services and other services across the county.
The week of action, which started on 1 March 2021, saw 290 lorries stopped and checked. It also included educating drivers and haulier companies coming from overseas to the UK on implementing better security in order to restrict clandestine entry and disrupt organised crime gangs.
Police also collected £1,400 in previously issued fines from companies who had clandestine entrants hidden within their HGVs.
Three HGVs were seized and removed from the road network and 15 drivers were issued fines for road traffic offences.
In Bedfordshire, police received a number of reports of people entering the country illegally in lorries and alighting at Toddington Services, which helped shape the operation.
This operation was supported by officers from Bedfordshire Police’s response, road policing, counter terrorism and community teams, as well as Border Force, National Crime Agency, Central Bedfordshire Council and officers from other forces.
Sergeant Andre Tringham, from Bedfordshire Police’s Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime Unit, said:
“We know that Toddington Services is being used by human traffickers for clandestine entry and we will not tolerate these horrific crimes in our county.
“We work closely with various organisations and other forces, and we will continue to run proactive operations to target those responsible, as well as to potentially protect and safeguard vulnerable people at risk of exploitation.
“As well as enforcement, these operations are a great opportunity to talk to people who work or frequently use these services and make them aware of these issues, and educate people on the importance of reporting.”
Anyone with concerns that someone may be a victim of trafficking, or has information about trafficking, should report it to Bedfordshire Police on 101 or confidentially to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.
In an emergency, always call 999.
For more information about the work going on to tackle organised immigration crime please visit Say No To People Smuggling.