Ipswich: Immigration officials tell police to let homeless illegal immigrant go

Sainsburys in Upper Brook Street in Ipswich.

Sainsburys in Upper Brook Street in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

Immigration officials told police to let a shoplifting illegal immigrant go, apparently relying on his honesty to keep track of him, it has emerged.

The 19-year-old admitted being homeless and being in the country illegally when questioned by an officer in Ipswich town centre.

However, the Pc was told to not detain the teenager as the Home Office was already aware of him being in the country.

Now, Ipswich’s Conservative MP Ben Gummer has vowed to take up the matter saying that in spite of improvements to the immigration system border officials still need to do better.

Mr Gummer said: “I shall endeavour to rapidly find out the detail of this. If this is true it shows how much work we have still got to do in fixing our immigration system.

“We have never said it would be working in a few months, but immigration is down significantly. There is still a huge amount to do and this case shows how our UK border force is not measuring up yet to what it should be.”

The teenager – understood to be named Imad Touri – was stopped at around 12.30pm on Sunday after stealing two bottles of Coke from Sainsbury’s in Upper Brook Street.

Most Read

Police said a member of the security staff saw him taking the bottles and concealing them under his clothing, before leaving the store.

Through a Moroccan interpreter Touri admitted the theft to police and apologised.

He was not charged. However, he was given a community resolution after the store manager accepted his apology and a promise that he would not return to the shop.

Although Suffolk Constabulary has not released Touri’s name, it confirmed it subsequently spoke to immigration officials about him.

Richard Jones, a spokesman for the force, said: “The Home Office was contacted as he had previous immigration offences.

“They said they were aware of him and were currently making a decision about his stay in the country.”

Mr Jones added the police officer involved was told he need not detain Touri for immigration offences if the shoplifting matter had been resolved.

Unsubstantiated reports state Touri also said he had connections with other areas, including Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Thames Valley, and had been in the country for around five years.

Asked about the case a Home Office spokesman said: “We are determined to crack down on immigration offenders. Where people are found to be in the UK illegally we will take steps to remove them.”

Officials have also said when someone’s case for removal is pending and they are no longer able to be detained, they may be placed on temporary release.

However, they are required to report regularly to immigration officials while steps are taken to secure their deportation.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter