Vans driving around Barking and Dagenham to persuade illegal immigrants to leave UK
PUBLISHED: 14:41 23 July 2013 | UPDATED: 11:16 24 July 2013
A campaign to encourage illegal immigrants to leave the UK voluntarily was launched yesterday in Barking and Dagenham.
The borough is one of six in London that have been chosen by the Home Office for the one-week pilot.
Vans displaying the message ‘In the UK illegally? Go home or face arrest’ are being driven around Barking and Dagenham as well as Hounslow, Ealing, Barnet, Brent and Redbridge.
They also carry a text number that people can message to arrange their return.
Leaflets and posters are also being handed out that highlight the advantages of returning home voluntarily while making clear that enforcement action will be taken if they do not.
Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “We are making it more difficult for people to live and work in the UK illegally. Every single day our enforcement officers are arresting, detaining and removing people with no right to be in the UK.
“But there is an alternative to being led away in handcuffs. Help and advice can be provided to those who cooperate and return home voluntarily.”
The pilot areas were chosen for having significantly higher or below average numbers of voluntary returns.
A council spokesman said they had been given no prior warning of the scheme before it hit the news.
He said: “The first we heard about it was Monday evening. Even the police don’t know about it.”
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