Sheffield hauliers urged to report suspicions about people smuggling

Sheffield hauliers are being urged to report suspicions about people smuggling as part of a new Crimestoppers campaign launched in a bid to save lives

Monday, 8th February 2021, 11:05 am

The Government-backed campaign urges lorry drivers across the country to be on the lookout for smuggling and to report their concerns anonymously.

It has been launched in the wake of a people smuggling tragedy that saw 39 Vietnamese migrants suffocate in a sealed lorry trailer in 2019.

Director of Operations at Crimestoppers, Mick Duthie, said: “We know that people smuggling is driven by criminal gangs who exploit migrants for financial gain. Smugglers can operate alone, or in small gangs, or they can be part of a large international crime operation.

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Sheffield hauliers are being urged to look out for the signs of people smuggling

“The consequences of their actions were evident in the tragic loss of life seen when dozens of Vietnamese migrants died from suffocation whilst being transported in a sealed refrigerator lorry in Essex. Every death as a result of immigration crime is a tragedy and we hope that we can help prevent further harm and suffering by catching these callous smugglers who care little for the welfare of their victims.”

Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts, Chris Philp, said: “People smugglers are traders in human misery, exploiting and profiting from the vulnerability of others.

“I would encourage anyone with information about suspected organised immigration crime to share it via Crimestoppers and help bring callous offenders to justice. If hauliers fail to secure their lorry and a migrant is found in the back, they will be fined up to £2,000 per migrant.”

The National Crime Agency’s Head of Organised Immigration Crime Operations, Miles Bonfield, said: “People smugglers put lives at risk, day in day out, and these criminal networks often try to use hauliers as part of their business model. We want hauliers to help us make that as difficult as possible.

“My message to hauliers is that we need your help to try and disrupt this dangerous criminality and I’d ask them to report anything suspicious. But I’d also like to put out a warning to those who might consider in engaging in this activity. We and our partners are targeting everyone involved in people smuggling, and the penalties are severe.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.