MORE illegal immigrants have been found in Harwich than any other east coast port in the UK, a border security report has revealed.

The report, from the UK independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, stated border security is stretched when it comes to guarding against illegal immigrants, referred to as clandestine arrivals.

The inspection investigated the efficiency and effectiveness of immigration and custom controls at six large ports, including Harwich.

Against Tilbury, Felixstowe, Immingham, Hull and Rosyth, Harwich has been reported as the east coast port with most arrivals of illegal immigrants smuggled in vehicles.

In the report, Harwich was recorded to have 107 clandestine arrivals between April 2014 and March 2015, and 150 between April 2015 and March 2016.

It’s neighbouring port Felixstowe was reported to have had 23 clandestine arrivals between April 2014 and March 2015, and none between April 2015 and March 2016.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are pleased that this report acknowledges that Border Force operations at major seaports are generally efficient and effective.

“However, we accept that improvements can be made and will be taking forward the recommendations.”

“We are already improving our visibility and intelligence-gathering at smaller ports by doubling the number of coastal patrol vessels operating, increasing the focus of our field intelligence officers on maritime and, through Project Kraken, helping maritime communities to report suspicious activity.

“Additionally, we have set up the Maritime Information Bureau to ensure our operations, and those of our partners, are targeted based on the threat facing our coastline, keeping communities safe. With over 11,000 miles of coastline, it is crucial that Border Force uses intelligence to prioritise its resources.

“We are also working, including through the organised immigration crime task force and with international partners, to target the crime gangs involved in smuggling people and illicit goods long before they arrive on our shores.”

Ivan Henderson, Harwich Town councillor, said lorries, trailers and containers need to all be physically checked by security at Harwich Port.

He said: “But if resources are cut, then we are going to get people illegally coming in to Harwich.

“We need enough preventative measures to stop this but it cannot be done while resources are being cut.

“We are on high security as it is and there should be more investment into preventing illegal immigrants coming into the country than there is at the moment.

“We are not getting our borders sufficiently resourced and we are not doing enough checks.”

Earlier this month, a man admitted trying to smuggle 22 Afghan nationals, including a seven-year-old, into the UK through Harwich port. They were found in the back of his lorry.

Tomasz Cierniak, 32, was jailed for three years and eight months.

Polish lorry driver was stopped by Border Force officers after his vehicle arrived at Harwich International Port on a ferry from the Hook of Holland.

Cierniak told officers he was carrying electronic good to deliver to John Lewis in Milton Keynes. When the lorry’s rear doors opened, officers found washing machines and tumble dryers stacked three high and four across.

Officers searched the lorry and found the people in a purposely created gap between the heavily loaded rear and the front of the trailer during the stop on February 2 last year.

Cierniak, of no fixed UK address, admitted facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration laws at an earlier hearing and was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court.