14 men arrested after suspected illegal immigrants detained in Blythburgh
PUBLISHED: 11:03 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:44 05 December 2019
Border Force have arrested 14 men in an operation in Blythburgh following reports last night that a group of people had been seen leaving a boat on the Suffolk coast.
Police were called to Southwold around 6pm Wednesday, December 4, as people were seen disembarking the boat.
A vehicle, which eyewitnesses described to be full of people, was later stopped by police in the nearby village of Blythburgh.
The Home Office have now confirmed that 14 men have been arrested on suspicion of entering the country illegally, and two further people were arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal migration.
A spokesman from the government office said: "Immigration Enforcement is working with Norfolk and Suffolk police forces as part of an ongoing investigation.
"Police identified two vehicles believed to have been used to transport migrants.
"As part of that investigation, 14 adult males of Albanian nationality have been taken into custody as it was suspected they had entered the UK illegally. Their cases will be dealt with according to Immigration Rules. Two others have also been arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal migration."
An eyewitness at the scene reported a huge police presence last night.
Lucy Robinson said she saw 12 police cars in the small village, as well as a number of Border Force, Coastguard and ambulance vehicles.
She also reported seeing a police helicopter hovering over the village with its search light on.
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: "Police have been supporting a Border Force led operation this evening after police received a call at about 6pm this evening.
"It was reported that approximately 15 people were seen leaving a boat in the Southwold Harbour area and getting into vehicles.
"Following enquiries a number of people were subsequently arrested later in the evening and have been taken into custody."
East Suffolk Council, which manages Southwold Harbour, confirmed an employee saw a vessel arriving and a number of people disembarking before getting into vehicles.
"On the basis that no vessels of this nature were expected, he immediately contacted the Harbour Master who alerted the UK Border Force and Suffolk Police," a council spokesman added. "The matter was then dealt with by these agencies."
"The UK Border Force operate an immigration 'rapid response unit' with which Southwold Harbour works closely and we have supplied CCTV footage which identified both the vessel and the awaiting vehicles.
"This incident, and our response, is an example of the vigilance of Southwold Harbour colleagues and highlights the importance of joint working with other local and national agencies."