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Migrants found in fresh produce lorry in Gravesend

Eleven migrants discovered in refrigerated vehicle in Kent but Dartford distributor reports reduction in people smuggling since Jungle destroyed

Migrants found in fresh produce lorry in Gravesend

Migrants were found squeezed into the back of a fresh produce lorry in Gravesend, Kent. Photo: Kent Police

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Eleven people, thought to be undocumented migrants, have been found squeezed into the back of a refrigerated fruit and vegetables lorry in Gravesend, Kent.

Among the group found in the truck was a seven-year-old boy who was taken to hospital as a precaution, according to Kent Online.

The vehicle, which contained oranges and garlic among other products, was found in the car park of a supermarket in Gravesend on 9 May.

Kent Police released a picture, which appeared to show a man lying in a tight gap between the roof of a lorry and boxes of oranges and garlic.

The London Evening Standard reported that a 54-year-old Romanian man was arrested on suspicion of assisting illegal entry to the UK, however the fresh produce company that the lorry belonged to is unknown.

While people smuggling remains an obstacle for fresh produce suppliers and distributors, reports suggest it is not as problematic as it was before the Calais Junge refugee camp was destroyed in October last year.

David Robinson of storage and distribution firm Fresh Service, based in nearby Dartford, said his company had "definitely seen a reduction" in the number of undocumented migrants found in the back of fresh produce lorries since the Jungle was dismantled.

He added that although his company's import volumes have increased recently with the beginning of the stonefruit season, this has not caused an increase in the number of undocumented migrants being found in Dartford. 

The seven-year-old boy found in Gravesend was subsequently discharged from hospital and the group was taken to a Home Office immigration centre, the newspaper reported.

Among the group were four children and their parents, who are thought to be from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

A Kent Police spokesman said officers were called after "a report of a number of suspected migrants in a refrigerated lorry in a supermarket car park” at 11.32pm.

Police would not identify the supermarket where the group was found, however it was reported that officers were called to London Road, Northfleet, where a branch of Aldi and a Lidl regional distribution centre are based.

The arrested driver has since been released on bail pending further investigation.

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