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Illegal Immigrants

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations she has made to French authorities in Calais on the use by British border guards of X-ray machines to detect illegal immigrants in lorries; and if she will make a statement. (178842)

[holding answer 30 January 2008]: The UK and France are committed to working jointly to tackle the issue of illegal immigration. This commitment was further enhanced at the recent UK-France summit. During the summit, British and French Ministers agreed to implement a number of measures to strengthen the security and quality of border controls in Calais and to develop a joint action plan to look more broadly at the continuing pressure from illegal migration in the Pas de Calais region.

In addition to these concrete proposals on further improving the very effective measures already in place to combat cross channel people smuggling and abuse of UK immigration laws, we continue to explain to the French Government the benefits of deploying gamma scanners in France in order to seek agreement to their deployment.

Although current French domestic health and safety legislation prevents the use of X-ray and gamma ray radiation for the purpose of searching for people we do deploy gamma ray search scanners to search for clandestines in the UK and Belgium.

In France, the Border and Immigration Agency uses a range of effective detection technology to search for people. This includes passive millimetre wave imaging which uses natural radiation, heartbeat detections, carbon dioxide probes and search dogs.

The UK and France are committed to combating illegal immigration and in the port of Calais throughout 2007, with the assistance of Calais Chamber of Commerce (CCCI), Eamus Cork Security (ECS), Border and Immigration Agency staff successfully prevented 11,700 clandestine attempts from crossing the channel to enter the UK. An additional 2,159 people were also refused entry to the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the oral answer of 21 April 2008, Official Report, column 1040, what definition of lorry drops her Department uses in relation to the detection and detaining of suspected illegal immigrants. (202570)

Clandestine illegal entrants include those who enter concealed in a vehicle including lorries, vans, caravans, motor homes or any other commercial vehicle. If a police or immigration officer is satisfied that an illegal entrant has arrived clandestinely within the last 72 hours, by whatever means of transport, then the person's arrival is a clandestine event. In enforcement this is commonly referred to as a “lorry drop”.