Suffolk householders face detention bill

TAX payers in Suffolk are footing the bill for the detention of illegal immigrants who are arrested in the county, it emerged today.The eastern region is one of the most popular locations for “lorry drops” - where immigrants are bought from the continent in lorries and dropped off in the UK.

TAX payers in Suffolk are footing the bill for the detention of illegal immigrants who are arrested in the county, it emerged today.

The eastern region is one of the most popular locations for “lorry drops” - where immigrants are bought from the continent in lorries and dropped off in the UK.

Many are detained by Suffolk police before being picked up by immigration officials meaning the force has to meet the cost of their short stay in the county.

It is not clear how many immigrants are picked up by police each year although it is understood to place a strain on tight resources.

The force's chief constable, Simon Ash, has expressed concern that immigration suspects are not collected immediately and taken to an immigration centre.

In a letter to Gail Adams, regional director of the Border and Immigration Agency, Mr Ash said the agency's ability to “respond to and collect” suspects was “an on-going challenge” and “of some concern”.

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Mr Ash's fears follow similar concerns voiced by chief constables elsewhere in the country.

Cambridgeshire police chief Julie Spence wrote to the Border and Immigration Agency warning there was “community tension” which was “increasing the potential for large-scale public disorder”.

She even predicted it could lead to race riots like those seen on the streets of Bradford and Oldham.

And London's Met Police commander, Ian Quinton, claimed certain foreign nationals represented a “danger to ordinary citizens”.

A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “In the east of England we have introduced a new fast-track procedure where, whenever possible, adult male immigration offenders are immediately taken into detention where they are fingerprinted.

“Immigration officers from our Felixstowe enforcement office work closely with Suffolk Police responding to any requests for assistance.”

Today, a spokeswoman for Suffolk police said she was unable to comment on Mr Ash's stance and said he was “unavailable” for comment himself.

Should Suffolk be made to pay for the detention of illegal immigrants? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

SUFFOLK police has to shell out almost £400 a night to house inmates in custody cells, it emerged earlier this year.

The cost of housing, feeding and transporting one prisoner for one night runs to an average of £385.

The shocking figure - more than the price of spending the night in a plush London hotel - was revealed after it emerged Suffolk police's custody cells were being used to cope with prison overcrowding.

The money was paid out as part of Operation Safeguard, the name given when police cells hold prisoners when prisons have reached capacity.

Suffolk police have to pay upfront before claiming the money back from central government.

Government figures show that last year, prisoners were kept in Suffolk police custody cells on 1,085 occasions, at a total cost of £417,725.

The previous year, inmates were accommodated just 83 times, at a cost of £31,955.