THE number of illegal immigrants detained at ports linking Northern Ireland and Scotland has increased by 75 per cent.
Nearly 300 people were intercepted last year attempting to use the ports, according to the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF) annual report.
The border agency’s operation is focused on Belfast International and George Best Belfast City airports, as well as Belfast and Larne seaports. It targets passengers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
According to the report, in the past year detection of illegal immigrants increased by about 60 per cent overall, with 281 people intercepted attempting to abuse or help to abuse Northern Ireland sea ports to travel illegally across the UK. More than 70 per cent of these offenders were removed from the UK.
A UK Border Agency spokesperson said: “Changes to the way enforcement is organised to target immigration offenders has seen an increase in the number of illegal immigrants detected at Scottish and Northern Ireland sea ports.
“The UK Border Agency detected 281 illegal immigrants at Scottish and Northern Ireland sea ports last year, which is almost three-quarters more than the previous year.”