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Number of migrants rises by 50 per cent

Migrants are being caught in unprecedented numbers, a police union spokesman said yesterday, but they are quickly released, and try to cross the Channel again, often within hours, because border controls in continental Europe have been abolished.

An estimated 1,200 migrants are sheltering in squats and makeshift camps in Calais, rising by 50 per cent since the beginning of the year. Police have said that around a hundred newcomers arrive every week, many coming from the world’s trouble spots, such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, but the biggest group now consists of Eritreans fleeing their country’s brutal dictatorship.

“We spend our time taking them out of the backs of lorries, only for them to come back again the next day,” said Gilles Debove, the police union delegate in the Calais area.

Mr Debove said 10,500 migrants had been caught in Calais since January, compared with 5,133 in the same period last year, but few had been detained, and even fewer expelled from France.

The influx was highlighted by a French police report which said a total of 68 Eritreans were stopped at the Franco-Italian border between January and April of this year. In June, the figure was 2,628. According to the French interior minister, almost all regard France as a country of transit, hoping for a new life in Germany or the UK.

With this in mind, it is of great importance that employers understand what is and is not an acceptable document to provide evidence of eligibility to work within the UK. Generally any nationals of EEA countries may be employed without restriction and other workers must have a work permit to be legally employed – to employ an illegal immigrant carries a potential £10K fine per worker! Employers should take steps to ensure they can show they undertook reasonable checks to protect themselves against prosecution. Fake documents are common and employers should reasonably verify that documents are genuine. Some employers check only the documents for applicants who appear to be ‘foreign’. This can give rise to discrimination claims so we advise that employers check every employee’s documentation as a matter of routine.

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