POLICE and Border Force officers have carried out searches at Holyhead Port as part of a clampdown on people smuggling.

North Wales Police were working with officers from UK Border Force as part of the ‘Say No to People Smuggling’ campaign launched by Crimestoppers in partnership with the UK Government.

The searches were carried out by officers who spoke to lorry drivers and inspected vehicles. None of the lorries searched gave reason for concern, police said.

The campaign follows Operation Melrose, the investigation into the deaths of 39 migrants who were transported in a refrigerated truck in 2019. It was suggested early in the investigation that the lorry had travelled through Holyhead Port before enquiries confirmed it was Purfleet Port, Essex.

Ongoing patrols by officers in North Wales also aim to raise awareness of the dangers of people smuggling to prevent another tragedy from occurring.

In the last year, 59 individuals have been convicted for smuggling offences and handed over 142 years in prison time.

Detective Sergeant Richard Sidney, from the Force's Exploitation Unit, said: “Haulage drivers are often approached by people smugglers who frequently sell migrants into modern slavery. Desperate and vulnerable people wanting to enter the UK are being exploited by criminals who knowingly transport them, dangerously and illegally for cash.

“We are supporting the ‘Say no to people smuggling’ campaign here in North Wales and encourage haulage drivers and members of the public to learn the signs of people smuggling. From noticing suspicious activity around trailers, to seeing false documentation, you can learn what to watch out for. If you’d prefer not to speak to police, you have the option of sending information completely anonymously to us through Crimestoppers.”

As well as haulage drivers, the campaign aims to educate the general public with posters are being displayed at key locations and leaflets are being distributed that contain information on how to spot smuggling.

If you notice any suspicious activity or think someone you know might be involved in people smuggling, you can give information to police by calling 999 in an emergency and 101 or the North Wales Police website chat for non-emergencies. Alternatively you can give information anonymously through Crimestoppers.