M1 Toddington services is a migrant 'hop-off' hotspot, say police
Photo: Tony Margiocchi
Police dealing with an “unprecedented” number of migrants say hundreds of arrests were made at or near a single M1 lorry stop.
More than 400 immigration arrests have been made across Bedfordshire’s road network and services since 2010.
More than 80% were made at or near the Toddington Services on the M1 north of Luton, the force says.
Police say the service area is often the first place lorry drivers stop for a break after coming in through Dover.
The total number of immigration offence arrests across Bedfordshire shot up 83% – from 213 to 389 – during the first eight months of 2015, compared with the same period last year.
It is the largest rise of any of the counties in the east of England which, as a whole, has seen a 31% rise in arrests over the most recent reporting periods.
By law, drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes after driving for up to four-and-a-half hours in one stretch (often referred to as a “tacho-break” because of the tachograph drivers use to record their journey information).
“The lorry drivers are using Toddington services for a ‘tacho-break’,” said Ch Insp Nick Lyall, “and obviously then discovering either the illegal immigrants inside or the immigrants are using that as an opportunity (to disembark).”
Toddington, he said, was often the first opportunity for stowaways to get off the vehicle they used to enter the UK, and many of whom would then claim asylum.
More than 80% of all arrests on Bedfordshire’s road network over the past five years were at Toddington service area, or the junctions immediately north or south of it.