Eight children smuggled into the UK found in lorry by police in …

POLICE rescued eight unaccompanied asylum-seeking children from a lorry it has been revealed.

The children were discovered in June almost four years after 39 people died in the back of a lorry in Grays. They were taken into care by Thurrock Council.

At a meeting of Thurrock Council’s corporate parenting committee on Tuesday, a report on children’s services showed an influx of children into care in June, rising from eight in May to 30 in June.

Augustine Ononaji, Conservative councillor for South Chafford, asked why so many children were taken  care in that month.

In response, Dan Jones, head of service, children’s services, said: “Part of it was a group of unaccompanied children. When minors arrive in Thurrock, they arrive unexpectedly and it just depends what their route into the country has been.

“In June we had eight arrivals in one day. That pushed our numbers up because they had all been found in a lorry on that particular day. The other children that came into care in June were sibling groups. We had two sibling groups of four or five and that can push our numbers up.

“If you think of it terms of families, June wasn’t that exceptional but if you break it down into individual children the number was higher.”

The council has not revealed where the children were found or the exact date.

A spokesman for Thurrock Council said: “The unaccompanied asylum seekers were found by Essex Police officers. They are all now in local authority care receiving support and services from Thurrock Council’s children’s services.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.“The safety and welfare of all children is our utmost priority and we are work closely with all local authorities, including Thurrock council to ensure they fulfil their statutory duty to accommodate unaccompanied children.”

In October 2019, the bodies of 39 Vietnamese people, 31 men and eight women, were found in the trailer of an articulated refrigerator lorry in Grays. The trailer had been shipped from the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium, to Purfleet. The lorry cab and its driver are believed to have originated from Northern Ireland.Ten people have so far been convicted of crimes related to the incident in the UK and a further nineteen have been jailed in Belgium.