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Perilous New campaign to crackdown on people smuggling is launched two years after Essex lorry tragedy

'Stopping people smugglers and preventing further loss of life, is of the utmost priority for the NCA and its partners'

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 39 Vietnamese migrants were tragically found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex

39 Vietnamese migrants were tragically found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex

39 Vietnamese migrants were tragically found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex

A new campaign has been launched to crackdown on people smuggling two years after 39 Vietnamese migrants were tragically found dead in the back of a lorry in Essex. 

The initiative by Crimestoppers and the Home Office appeals to lorry drivers across Britain to lock their vehicles and report any suspicious activity that could be linked to the illegal activity.

In a joint appeal led by the National Crime Agency and Border Force, the campaign will target freight drivers across England, Scotland and Wales.

There will be messaging at service stations and ports on how they can help stop what is a dangerous and illegal way into the UK.

The NCA said that it alone has around 50 ongoing investigations linked to organised immigration crime.

Since the start of the year, the agency has been involved in more than 140 arrests.

The NCA said the tragedy that took place in Grays, Essex on 23 October 2019 highlighted just how perilous this method of entry into the country is.

After an 11-week trial in the Old Bailey in London, the jury deliberated for a week and found all four suspects guilty of all 39 counts of manslaughter.

Maurice Robinson was sentenced to 13 years, Eamon Harrison was sentenced to 18 years and as ringleaders, Ronan Hughes received 20 years and Gheorghe Nica, 27 years.

NCA Deputy Director Andrea Wilson said: “Stopping people smugglers and preventing further loss of life, is of the utmost priority for the NCA and its partners.

“The tragic events that took place in Essex two years ago have remained front and centre of our minds in tackling this issue and continue to inform our operational activity.

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“We cannot emphasise enough how crucial information from those in the transport sector is, and hope this renewed drive gives people the confidence to report any suspicious activity to the authorities.”

Border Force Chief Operating Officer Steve Dann, said: “The Grays tragedy revealed the terrible dangers people face being hidden in the backs of lorries by criminals who put profit over safety without a care for who they hurt.

“Border Force work tirelessly to search, find and stop people being smuggled into the country using every tool at our disposal and on both sides of the border.

“This campaign encourages our haulier community to secure their vehicle and to be the eyes and ears on the roads reporting anything they think is suspicious – together with the NCA, we are determined to bring an end to this heinous trade in people smuggling.”

New posters and leaflets launched on Monday [25 October] will make it clear to drivers exactly what they should look out for, including; security breaches at ports, unexpected route diversions from drivers on shift and unusual behaviour at the rear of vehicles.

Drivers will also be encouraged to secure their vehicles and report any instances where they have been approached by someone offering opportunities to earn extra cash.

Any suspicion, no matter how small it may appear at the time, can be reported anonymously to CrimeStoppers on 0800 555 111, or in an emergency, the police by dialling 999.

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