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The BBC's Jon Sopel in Calais
"Designed to destabilise those who trade in human misery"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 27 June, 2000, 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK
Police to tackle human trafficking
Dover port
Immigration scams target UK ports
Police forces from across Europe have called for greater co-operation to combat what they say is the organised crime behind the human trafficking industry.

Officials from Belgium, Holland, France, Germany and the UK agreed at a meeting on Monday to share intelligence and work more closely to tackle the problem.

They are to look at both the strategic and tactical issues involved in the trade which the UK's National Crime Squad (NCS) estimates involves a million people a year around the world.

Their meeting in The Hague on Monday was brought forward following the deaths of 58 illegal Chinese immigrants in a truck that arrived in Dover last week.

A sorry being searched
Lorries are searched daily for stowaways
Bob Packham, deputy director general of NCS, said organised crime had turned its focus to high crime with low risk activities.

"The purpose of yesterday's meeting was to ask Europol to assist with their analytic capability, to plan and when possible, help develop joint operational activity," Mr Packham said.

Dover tragedy

The number of illegal immigrants detected trying to enter Britain went up from 61 in 1991 to 16,000 last year.

Signatories of the EU's Schengen immigration agreement, which relaxes immigration controls between member countries, have to ensure that where they come across illegal immigrants they remove them from the whole of the Schengen area.

But Home Secretary Jack Straw accused Belgium on Sunday of failing to enforce the agreement in the case of the illegal Chinese immigrants whose corpses turned up at Dover.

It followed reports that the illegal immigrants who died at Dover had been detained in Belgium but were only deported as far as the Belgian border.

The UK has signed up to the Schengen agreement, although it has retained the right to control its borders.

Britain's NCS, which has 1,450 detectives seconded from local police forces, has also agreed to send some of its staff to meet with Europol, the EU police agency, in the near future.

NCS was formed in April 1998 to fight organised and transnational crime.

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