Nine suspected illegal migrants arrested at a lorry depot are on the run after police trusted them to make their own way to an immigration office more than 80 miles away.
Cambridgeshire police seized the Afghan men as they were hiding in a lorry at a depot in the village of Fordham near Ely. They were believed to have entered on the lorry via a port on the south coast.
Police informed the immigration authorities at St Ives and were said to have waited for immigration officers to arrive, but with all their cells full and without the "capability to look after them", later that day Cambridgeshire police bought the nine men single tickets, gave them verbal travel directions and then escorted them onto a train bound for London.
The men were supposed to make their way to the 20-storey Lunar House in Croydon, south London, which houses the headquarters of the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA). They were never seen again.
They disappeared on February 5 but all efforts since to trace them have failed, according to police. Cambridgeshire police said they made the decision on the advice of immigration officials and insisted it was accepted practice.
Inspector Alan Savile said: "In matters of this nature, the police are led by the UK Immigration Service, which in turns follows the Home Office instruction.
"In this instance the immigration service in St Ives was consulted and the decision taken to direct individuals to the immigration facility at Croydon, which is accepted practice." …ok well