SPECIALIST social workers from Staffordshire County Council are working to support four people who said they are under the age of 18, after 27 suspected migrants were found in a lorry stopped on the M6 yesterday.
Traffic chaos was bought to the M6 in Staffordshire yesterday evening, Wednesday, when a major police incident closed both carriageways for a number of hours.
A 42-year-old man remains in custody following an incident where a lorry was stopped on the M6 last night (January 9).
Twenty seven people were detained after the lorry was stopped between junctions 15 and 16 northbound of the M6 just before 6pm.
The vehicle was stopped after reports were received that lives were at risk.
The driver of the vehicle, a 42-year-old man of no fixed address, was arrested on suspicion of facilitating the illegal entry of persons unknown to the UK.
During the incident, a number of people fled from the lorry but all were detained. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries reported.
Deputy Chief Constable Nick Baker, said: “We recognise the disruption this has caused to road users as there were lengthy delays and we’d like to thank the public for their patience and co-operation during this incident.
“We received information that there was real concern for people in distress and lives may have been at risk, therefore it was necessary for us to take immediate and appropriate action.
“The response to this incident has involved multiple forces, agencies and partners and I’d like to thank those organisations for their help and assistance.”
Philip Atkins, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Staffordshire County Council has a dedicated team of specialists who are supporting these young people today.
“We have a duty to look after these young people and our priority is to ensure they are safe and well and treated appropriately for their age while they are assessed.
“In the last five years almost 200 unaccompanied asylum seeking children have been found along the M6 corridor in Staffordshire. They are usually very hungry, tired and unkempt after being in a lorry for a long time, and frightened and anxious.
“More needs to be done to help stop children making these perilous journeys and risking their lives, but in the meantime we have a duty to protect and support all children in our care.”
The carriageway re-opened in both directions at around 9.30pm last night.
The timeline of the incident as we understand it:
Police announced that both the North and South carriageways were closed.
#TRAFFICALERT UPDATE: Both northbound and southbound carriageways of the M6 between J15 and J16 are completely closed due to an ongoing police incident. Please avoid the area pic.twitter.com/pC98WyKDsE
— Staffordshire Police (@StaffsPolice) January 9, 2019
Police confirmed that there were a number of agencies working on the incident.
We currently have m6 j15 to j16 NB and SB closed due to a major incident. We are working with @HighwaysWMIDS @StaffsPolice @Trafficwmp @OFFICIALWMAS @StaffsFire. Please avoid the area and find alternative routes. Further updates will follow. Thanks for your patience. NJ
— CMPG (@CMPG) January 9, 2019
Highways England have confirmed that the motorway remains shut in both directions.
They have said: “Northbound and Southbound on the
#M6 at J15 and J16 are still currently closed due to the ongoing @CMPG incident. Further updates will follow. Long delays in the area. Please ensure you take an alternative route if possible.”
Statement from Staffordshire Police
Officers from Staffordshire Police have stopped a vehicle on the M6 between Junctions 15 and 16 this evening (9 January) and a number of people have exited the back of the vehicle.
A man has been arrested at the scene and is currently in police custody.
Colleagues from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Midlands Ambulance Service are also in attendance.
Police and partners are assessing the welfare of the people who exited the vehicle and we will be liaising with our colleagues in Immigration Enforcement.
The southbound carriageway is now open and the northbound carriageway remains closed for the time being. We recognise the disruption this is causing to road users and we thank everyone for their co-operation.
Both carriageway are to re-open ‘imminently’.
**UPDATE** – #M6 Northbound between J15 and J16 and Southbound between J16 and J14 will be re-opening imminently as the @CMPG incident has come to a resolution. We will provide a further update very shortly when both carriageways are running. Thank you for your patience. pic.twitter.com/a39NiMAevd
— Highways England (@HighwaysWMIDS) January 9, 2019