France ‘jails smuggling Britons’

Published: Tuesday 23rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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Up to 100 Britons are estimated to have been jailed in France in the past year after trying to smuggle migrants through Calais into Britain, according to local prosecutors.

UK citizens now make up a quarter of those brought before the Calais region’s main court, second only to smugglers from Eastern Europe, it is claimed.

The disclosure comes as aid workers have warned of a “catastrophic” situation unfolding in the French port town, where migrant numbers have swelled from around 1,000 since April to more than 3,000.

The court’s deputy prosecutor Julie Colaert said that every month she saw up to 10 British smugglers before the court, following promises to migrants of a “guaranteed passage” to the UK.

In the BBC’s File on 4 programme, Ticket to Hide, it was also revealed that car and van drivers, rather than lorry drivers, were being hired by smuggling gangs in the belief they were less likely to be searched.

Ms Colaert told the programme, which airs tonight on BBC Radio 4: “In the last two years, we have seen more and more English smugglers.

“Trafficking gangs are employing them to take people across in their own cars. The migrants pay a lot of money because it’s sold as guaranteed passage to the UK.”

Aid workers have predicted the plight in Calais is set to worsen, and that more than 2,000 more migrants will flock there over the summer.

Such growth in migrant numbers has led to outbreaks of violence among their number and towards truckers, forcing some hauliers to avoid Calais altogether.

British truckers have spoken about facing daily threats of violence, intimidation, as well as fears of being fined if migrants clamber aboard their trucks.

Meanwhile, there was also an economic impact to the UK. The Fresh Produce Consortium estimates that some £10 million of fresh fruit and vegetables have been thrown away since the start of the year.

Published: Tuesday 23rd June 2015 by The News Editor

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