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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Immigration controls tightened
Asylum-seekers pass by the entrance of Channel Tunnel during the night
Many migrants try to smuggle themselves into the UK
A raft of new measures aimed at preventing illegal immigrants from entering the UK has been unveiled by Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Thermal imaging equipment, acoustic listening devices, X-ray scanners and CCTV are just some of the devices that will be put into use in both the UK and on the French end of the Channel Tunnel.

Speaking on a visit to the port of Dover to see the work of immigration officers first hand, Mr Blunkett made a commitment to improving immigration control and procedures in the UK, and at French ports.

The home secretary said that in addition to employing hi-tech measures he would be talking at an international level about tackling the problem of human trafficking.

These measures ... are geared to securing confidence in our border controls

David Blunkett
He said: "The enhancement of security checks, identification of clandestine attempts to enter the country, and improved action both to detain and remove those unauthorised to remain in the country, is a further step in the revision of overall immigration and asylum policy which I have promised.

"These measures should be seen in the context of the wider review of nationality and asylum policy, to be announced shortly.

"These measures, together with those agreed with the French Interior Minister last week, are geared to securing confidence in our border controls and build on procedures undertaken by Jack Straw and Barbara Roche over recent years."

But Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes said that while nobody could object to more efficient technology to prevent illegal entry into the UK, the government had failed to address the "root cause" of the problem.

"Asylum seekers either ought to be allowed to put their case from abroad - for example northern France - or must be allowed a lawful way to cross the Channel so that they can put their case here without risking their lives and those of others in the process."

Immigration officers at Dover are due to get five new mobile scanners to detect illegal immigrants, who are smuggled through the port mainly in freight vehicles.

A child leaves the Red Cross camp at Sangatte
Eurotunnel wants the Sangatte camp closed

Staff at Heathrow are to be equipped with CCTV to monitor passengers from incoming flights.

The aim is to detect people who destroy documents in order to present a false story at passport control as well as providing extra security, the home secretary said.

Mr Blunkett announced a new target of removing 2,500 illegal immigrants a month from the UK.

He will forge ahead with plans to fine Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel 2,000 for every illegal immigrant which reaches the UK through its services.

And he intends to send extra immigration officers to provide additional support for Eurotunnel.

Iraqi crushed

The announcements came amid reports that a 25-year-old Iraqi man was crushed under a truck.

Rescue workers said the man died after being hit by the wheels of a truck in Arques, about 25 miles from Calais.

Main entrance to the Red Cross refugee camp at Sangatte
Critics say UK immigration policies are flawed
Eurotunnel and other operators have blamed "flawed" UK immigration policies for the numbers of asylum-seekers trying to smuggle themselves into the UK.

The issue has been discussed by Mr Blunkett and his French counterpart, who met last week.

Eurotunnel has been running a high-profile campaign against the fines, and against the Red Cross-run refugee camp in Calais.

It describes the camp as a "logistics centre" where plans are made to break into its compound, and a base for criminal smuggling gangs.

It said on Tuesday that 30,000 attempts to break into its Calais terminal compound had been made so far this year.

In a joint statement on Tuesday Eurostar, Eurotunnel, Hoverspeed, Norfolk Line, P&O Stena Line, SeaFrance, SNCF and the Passenger Shipping Association said they had had to spend millions of pounds on security procedures to compensate for the UK's flawed immigration system.

They said Britain must "bring its immigration policy into line with that of the other countries of the European Union in order to correct the impression of Great Britain as an easy target".

Sandy Lockhart, Kent County Council
"The Government have to tackle the core reasons"
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
reports from Dover
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