Fourteen arrested after being found in back of lorry in Essex

More than a dozen people have been arrested on suspicion of immigration offences after being found in the back of a lorry on a motorway in Essex.

The driver and a passenger have also been detained.

The M11 near Harlow was closed between junctions eight and nine while officers attended the scene after being called shortly before 6pm on Wednesday.

The 14 people in the back were detained after being checked by the ambulance service, police said.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Officers on the M11 motorway following arrests by Essex Police (Andy Brookes/Twitter/PA)</figcaption>
Officers on the M11 motorway following arrests by Essex Police (Andy Brookes/Twitter/PA)

The 30-year-old driver and a passenger were arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry, the force added.

Police said in a statement: “Officers located the lorry near Junction 9 of the M11 and closed both carriageways to ensure a safe exit for those inside the container.

“Fourteen people from inside the lorry were checked over by the East of England Ambulance Service. They have since been detained on suspicion of immigration offences.

“Another two people, the 30-year-old driver and a passenger, have been arrested on suspicion of facilitating illegal entry.”

Witness Andy Brookes told the PA news agency: “The police closed the road just before my vehicle, then loads more turned up.”

The 44-year-old from Earls Barton said: “I saw at least four people in the back of the trailer that were wearing Covid face masks, and I saw about six or seven people on the grass at the side of the motorway.”