More than 500 illegal immigrants arrested in region

MORE than 560 illegal immigrants were arrested by Felixstowe's UK Border Agency officers last year, it has been revealed.

Colin Adwent

MORE than 560 illegal immigrants were arrested by Felixstowe's UK Border Agency officers last year, it has been revealed.

Raids on 168 business and residential properties by immigration officials netted a total of 565 illegals in Suffolk and north Essex.

Nationally, the number of illegals arrested rose by more than 50 per cent year-on-year.

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A spokesman for the UKBA in Felixstowe said its officers swooped on 50 businesses and 42 private addresses in Suffolk in 2008.

A further 47 businesses and 29 residences were raided in the Colchester, Manningtree, Clacton, Harwich, Kelvedon and St Osyth areas during the same period.

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In their battle to protect UK borders and enforce immigration law, officials have also fined employers caught using illegal immigrants.

Fines for companies and other businesses in the Suffolk and north Essex area between March and December last year amounted to �461,250.

Thirty-seven raids were carried out in Ipswich in 2008 by UKBA officers, while Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft had 13 and 12 enforcement visits respectively.

According to the latest Home Office figures 61 stowaways were handed over by police to UKBA officers in Felixstowe between January and November last year after being discovered in lorries while attempting to enter the country illegally.

Home secretary Jacqui Smith revealed that from August 2005 to November 2008 the total number of stowaways handed over to the UKBA at the docks was 117.

The agency believes its border control measures are robust and that the increase in those caught provides evidence of this.

A UKBA spokesperson said: “Britain now has one of the toughest borders in the world and we will not tolerate anyone who seeks to abuse the system.

“State-of-the-art technology such as carbon dioxide and heartbeat detectors and moving our border controls to France means we can turn people away before they even step foot on British soil. By the end of last year we had detected 28,007 attempts to enter the UK illegally - 56 per cent more than the previous year.

“The key to shutting down illegal immigration is to shut down illegal jobs. That's why employers who don't play by the rules face tough new fines and could lose the right to recruit staff from outside Europe.

“Since we introduced this tough new civil penalties' regime last year we have issued over 1,000 fines worth more than �10 million.”

This year officers have swooped on at least three restaurants in Suffolk

Anyone who suspects that illegal workers are being employed at a business should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 in confidence.

UK Border Agency officers raided the New Oriental Chinese restaurant in Station Road, Stowmarket at 5.50pm on January 12.

Four Chinese nationals were found in the kitchen upstairs. A 23-year-old man was identified as a failed asylum seeker, while three more men were discovered to be illegal entrants to the UK.

The business was issued with an on-the-spot penalty notice and may now face a fine of up to �40,000 for employing illegal workers.

Two Indian restaurants, the Royal Bengal in Hadleigh's High Street and the Cardamom in High Street, Clare, also had visits from the UK Border Agency last month.

A 36-year-old Bangladeshi chef was arrested at the Cardamom after admitting a passport he showed officers was not his.

Another Bangladeshi man was taken into custody on the same day at the Royal Bengal.

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