Belfast Telegraph

Tilbury Docks: Second man arrested in Northern Ireland over shipping container death

By Claire Cromie

A second man has been arrested in Northern Ireland in connection with the death of a man and discovery of 34 other immigrants in a shipping container at Tilbury Docks.

Essex Police have confirmed the arrest a day after police swooped on the Limavady home of another Northern Irish man.

On Tuesday the 34-year-old was detained on suspicion of manslaughter and people trafficking on the A1 dual carriageway near Banbridge, Co Down.

An international investigation was launched after 34 adults and children from Kabul were found “banging and screaming” in the container on Saturday morning.

One of the men, who police named as Meet Singh Kapoor, had died.

The rest were treated for severe dehydration and hypothermia. They are believed to have fled Afghanistan after suffering persecution.

Belgian Police believe the immigrants were probably already inside the container when it was dropped at a European port before setting sail for Britain.

The 34 surviving men, women and children, aged from 1 to 72, are now in the care of the Home Office after being interviewed by police and are in the process of applying for asylum in the UK.

Limavady residents were shocked as searches took place in the residential Rose Park estate off the Edenmore Road in Co Londonderry on Tuesday.

It is understood a family lives in the bungalow and children’s toys and jetskis could be seen in the garden. Locals said the family had been there for some time.

Refrigerated lorry

A separate investigation is under way after a refrigerated lorry containing 15 people was discovered at a service station in Ilminster, near Taunton, by officers from Avon and Somerset Police working alongside immigration officials.

Almost 50 victims of human trafficking are discovered in the UK each week, Government figures have shown as the recent cases highlighted the issue of people smuggling.

Figures recorded by the National Crime Agency (NCA) show that 566 potential cases of trafficking were identified by police forces, local authorities, charities and Home Office officials across the UK in the first three months of this year.

According to an NCA report the most common reason for an adult being trafficked was sexual exploitation but there were also many cases of people being transported as cheap labour or into domestic servitude.

One case of a person being trafficked for organ harvesting was also detected during that period.

Last year 1,746 potential trafficking victims were found in the UK - an increase of 47% on the previous 12 months.

The Refugee Council, which works with people seeking asylum in the UK, said that it was difficult to establish the full scale of people smuggling into the UK after fleeing their home countries, as opposed to those who are trafficked for exploitation.

But the charity said the Tilbury incident was a "grim reminder" of the difficulties asylum seekers face.

Chief executive Maurice Wren said a lack of safe and legal routes for refugees meant they are often left with no choice other than the risk using the services of people smugglers.

He added: "This tragedy illustrates, all too painfully, the desperate measures that people who are in fear of persecution, yet have no-one to turn to for protection in their home countries, will take in search of safety."

A Home Office spokesman said officials would not comment on the figures because of the ongoing high-profile investigations.

The NCA figures covering January to March this year included 392 adults and 174 children, with the most common countries of origin being Albania, Slovakia, Nigeria and Vietnam.

This represents the equivalent of 47 possible trafficking victims each week.

Once victims are initially identified, they are assessed to establish whether they have been trafficked and why they were illegally transported.

Further reading:

Tilbury Docks: PSNI officers raid suspect’s home in probe into Essex docks shipping container death 

Trafficked people found in shipping container are 'Sikhs from Afghanistan' 

Homicide probe into container death 

13 children among container group 

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