Man arrested after 15 people found in the back of a truck in England

It follows a series of people smuggling incidents in Europe

Migrants are seen inside a refrigerated truck found by police, after a check at a motorway near Xanthi, Greece, November 4, 2019. REUTERS/Stavros Karipidis NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

A man in his fifties has been arrested after 15 people were found in a lorry he was driving near Chippenham, south-west England, on Wednesday evening.

A Wiltshire Police statement said: “We were called by a member of the public shortly before 8.30pm this evening following a report of suspicious activity involving a lorry on the A350 near Chippenham.

“At this early stage of our investigation, we believe they are all over the age of 16.

Ambulances and fire workers attended the scene and carried out initial medical checks. 14 of the people found in the van are being conveyed to custody, while one person has been taken to hospital for further checks – but is not believed to be in a serious condition, the police said.

The major road was closed while the lorry was cleared.

Chippenham resident Robert Burton, 31, told the Swindon Advertiser he was driving along the busy road as the incident was taking place.

He told the newspaper: “We saw another five or six police cars then another three or four ambulances. We saw immigrants being pulled out of the lorry.”

“It was shocking. You expect it in the city. You don’t expect it in a small market town.”

The suspect was detained on suspicious of assisting illegal entry. His arrest comes at a time where human trafficking in Europe has been brought back into the spotlight, as countries in the east of the continent struggle with their biggest resurgence of arrivals of migrants since the 2015 migrant crisis.

Earlier this week in Greece, police found 41 migrants hiding in a refrigerated lorry during a routine check at a motorway in the north of the country. The migrants were mostly Afghans.

The discovery comes less than two weeks after 39 bodies were found in the back of a refrigerated lorry near London.

All were believed to be Vietnamese migrants. Two people have been charged in Britain and eight in Vietnam over the deaths.