18 people rescued from refrigerated lorry in Cambridgeshire

Police have rescued 18 people from the back of a refrigerated lorry after the driver reported there were people on board. The driver of the HGV called the authorities after he noticed there were people on board and became concerned for their welfare. Nobody on board the vehicle was injured.

13 men and five women, who identified themselves as Eritrean, are currently being interviewed by the police. The people’s welfare will be handled by immigration services, said the force. It comes after a similar incident on 17 February, when three men were rescued from the back of a lorry on the A14 at Brampton Hut Services near Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.

Two of the men identified as Iraqi nationals and the third as an Iranian national. The men had told police in a call that they were suffocating and struggling to breathe, and officers located the vehicle which was believed to have travelled from France. All three were taken into custody and their cases will be dealt with according to immigration rules.

A spokesperson for the force said: “Stories like this may be distressing, but highlight that slavery and trafficking are real and police need the public’s help.”

People are urged to call 999 if they see people emerging from a lorry or HGV, if they hear banging from inside a lorry or if they see people entering the back of a lorry.

Police said people should be particularly vigilant at service stations or lay-bys, and should raise the alarm if anything about the vehicle does not seem quite right, for example if produce is bring thrown from it or something is being done to catch the attention of other motorists.

Anyone who witnesses such scenarios should call police on 999 and take note of the vehicle registration number, even if it has foreign plates.

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