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Eagle-eyed officer captures stowaways

PUBLISHED: 16:20 25 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

THREE stowaways have been captured in Felixstowe thanks to an eagle-eyed police officer.

The trio - Turkish Kurds - are believed to have jumped ship after arriving on a vessel at the town's port.

THREE stowaways have been captured in Felixstowe thanks to an eagle-eyed police officer.

The trio – Turkish Kurds – are believed to have jumped ship after arriving on a vessel at the town's port.

They managed to find their way out of the port complex and made their way to the town centre, on Monday morning.

The illegal immigrants were spotted by a police officer on The Triangle in Hamilton Road and taken into custody. A van was sent to collect the three men.

A police spokeswoman said the three had been handed over to the immigration service at Felixstowe to be dealt with through the proper procedures.

It is not known whether the men have applied for political asylum.

More than 500 stowaways were found sneaking into the country aboard ships calling at Felixstowe last year and ferry company and port authority officials have been doing all they can to stem the tide of human misery.

The port works closely with immigration and portworkers are urged to be vigilant at all times in case would -be immigrants jumped ship.

P & O North Sea Ferries, which runs sailings between Felixstowe and Europoort Rotterdam and Zeebrugge has invested heavily in special body heat detecting sensor equipment to search cargo.

P & O Stena Line has suffered so many problems at Dover it now checks every in-bound lorry and has hired security guards to work round the clock at Calais at a cost of £500,000 to check the 750,000 lorries using its ferries each year.

The government has passed laws to fine lorry drivers £2,000 for every immigrant found in their trailers or containers, though truckers have branded this as "unfair, unrealistic and impractical".

The Freight Transport Association and Road Haulage Association accept drivers who deliberately smuggle human cargo should face the maximum penalties of the law, but they say the vast majority of cases involve illegal immigrants which the driver has been unable to detect and had not known they were in his cargo.

Containers are sealed and cannot be opened by drivers and stowaways use ingenious ways to secrete themselves in canvas-sided trucks.

The RHA is now advising drivers to refuse to move their vehicles off ferries or accept their cargo if they have any reason to suspect there may be stowaways.

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