Council supporting four ‘under-18s’ after migrants found in lorry on M6

Council staff are supporting four people who said they were under 18 after more than 20 suspected migrants were found in a lorry on the M6.

Specialist social workers from Staffordshire County Council are working to support the young people as police question a 42-year-old man on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry into the UK.

The local authority said four of a group of 27 people found at the scene on Wednesday night said they were not adults.

Council leader Philip Atkins said: “Staffordshire County Council has a dedicated team of specialists who are supporting these young people today.

“We have a duty to look after these young people and our priority is to ensure they are safe and well and treated appropriately for their age while they are assessed.

“In the last five years almost 200 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children have been found along the M6 corridor in Staffordshire.

“They are usually very hungry, tired and unkempt after being in a lorry for a long time, and frightened and anxious.

“More needs to be done to help stop children making these perilous journeys and risking their lives, but in the meantime we have a duty to protect and support all children in our care.”

Staffordshire Police said 27 people were detained after the lorry was stopped on the northbound side of the M6 near Stoke-on-Trent.

The force said in a statement: “The driver of the vehicle, a 42-year-old man of no fixed address, was arrested on suspicion of facilitating the illegal entry of persons unknown to the UK.

“We are assisting our colleagues in Immigration Enforcement who are now running the investigation.

“During the incident, a number of people fled from the lorry but all were detained. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries reported.”

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker said: “We recognise the disruption this has caused to road users as there were lengthy delays and we’d like to thank the public for their patience and co-operation during this incident.

“We received information that there was real concern for people in distress and lives may have been at risk, therefore it was necessary for us to take immediate and appropriate action.”