- It was feared illegal immigrants found sneaking into UK in a lorry had contagious diseases
- Paramedics called to take them to hospital after they complained of headaches and began vomiting
- They were also concerned the migrants could have contaminated officers
- It meant police were unable to investigate the driver or deal with any other criminals
A police station was placed under quarantine amid fears that illegal immigrants discovered sneaking into Britain in the back of a lorry had contagious diseases.
In chaotic scenes, paramedics were called to take the migrants to hospital after they complained of headaches and began vomiting while being held.
But fearing the Iraqis had brought in an infectious disease, the paramedics declared a 'major incident' and placed Luton police station on lockdown.
They were also concerned the migrants, who had been crammed like sardines in the back of the lorry, could have contaminated officers in the custody suite.
Paramedics were called to take the migrants (pictured) to hospital after they complained of headaches and began vomiting
It meant police were unable to investigate the driver overnight or deal with any other criminals coming in to custody.
Officers were also ordered not to leave the station when their shift ended at midnight.
Incredibly, the lorry driver – a Romanian, who was arrested – could not be charged because border guards did not check his lorry at Dover. With police unable to prove that the migrants had arrived from the Continent, the haulier had to be set free.
The extraordinary situation was exposed in a new series of 24 Hours in Police Custody, which starts on Channel 4 this evening.
In the documentary, Bedfordshire Police allows TV crews unprecedented access to follow officers but the latest episode highlights the damaging consequences of the Border Force's failure to carry out security checks on all lorries arriving in the UK.
The programme begins with horrified officers finding 15 migrants, including a mother and her daughters aged five and three, crammed in the back of a filthy refrigerated lorry at Toddington services on the M1.
Fearing the Iraqis had brought in an infectious disease, the paramedics declared a ‘major incident’ and placed Luton police station on lockdown
It was feared the illegal immigrants discovered sneaking into Britain in the back of a lorry (pictured) had contagious diseases
They were called after banging was heard in the trailer. The migrants, who have been travelling for 17 hours in temperatures of two degrees, are taken to three different police stations across Bedfordshire.
But investigations are abandoned when they start complaining of headaches and fever. They are ordered to put on face masks and the station goes into lockdown.
The migrants are subsequently taken to hospital for tests but Luton police station is closed for hours and placed under quarantine.
Eventually the hospital declares it safe to return the migrants to custody after it is found they had fallen ill from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by lorry fumes.
Luton Custody Sergeant Darren Turney tells the programme makers: 'The whole immigration thing is such a big issue.
It drains our resources. Police officers are down the hospital, it takes all our cell space up and it's nothing to do with us.'
Investigating officer Nash Hussain is left in despair after discovering that the driver was not stopped at Dover. 'They signalled him straight through,' she says.
'It makes it difficult to prove whether he knew they were there prior to entry in the UK. It is frustrating. You put a lot of effort into something and you can't actually go any further.'
The programme reveals that police investigations into illegal immigration have soared alarmingly.
In Bedfordshire alone, the number arrested or detained on suspicion of offences increased by 75 per cent to 563 last year.
Immigration arrests at Toddington services almost quadrupled in a year to 79 in the first six months of 2015.
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