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Migrants found hiding in luggage hold of UK school coach trip

Stunned teachers and pupils at Houndsdown School in Totton, Hampshire, returned to the UK from France to find two suspected migrants hiding in the coach’s luggage compartment.

Two men were found hiding among the luggage when the hold was opened after the journey back to the UK. (Solent)
Two men were found hiding among the luggage when the hold was opened after the journey back to the UK. (Solent)

Suspected migrants were found in the luggage hold of a coach full of children returning from a school trip to France, parents have said.

The school pupils, their teachers and parents who were waiting to collect them were left stunned when they arrived home from the three-day trip and found the stowaways.

Two men, thought to be in their early 20s, were sat among the luggage when the hold was opened after the journey back to the UK.

One mother, who had been waiting to collect her child, said the incident at Hounsdown School in Totton, Hampshire, was “horrendous”.

One of the men tried to run off but was stopped by parents and one child's luggage was said to be covered in urine.

Police said no arrests have been made.

The coach had been carrying Year 9 and 10 pupils who had been visiting France. (Solent)
The coach had been carrying Year 9 and 10 pupils who had been visiting France. (Solent)

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The coach had been carrying Year 9 and 10 pupils who had been visiting Boulogne University, which is 20 miles south of Calais.

The teachers and pupils had travelled home on the coach via the Eurotunnel at Calais, returning to Totton on Saturday evening.

"It was horrendous," one mother said. Describing the moment the men were found, she said: "[My son's] luggage was covered in urine and his belongings crumpled by one of the men being on top of it.

"I asked them in French if they spoke English or French and they replied French. I was about to ask them where they’d come from but got ushered away by the teachers."

She added: "My one aim was to get my child off the bus, and once I had I went back as I couldn’t handle seeing kids being asked to take their baggage out of the hold.

"I just said 'excuse-moi' to the gent and leaned over him to get the rest of the bags out as my son's was tucked underneath him."

'I'm angry... they accessed a coach carrying school children'

Another parent posted on social media: “Not being funny but I'm angry about it. They got access to a coach carrying school children.

”It's one thing to get in a lorry but a very different thing to manage to get in to a coach without being seen.

“Was an absolute shocker to see a person sat there as the kids went forward to get their bags.”

Hampshire Police confirmed officers attended but that no arrests were made.

A force spokesperson said: “We were called just before 5:15pm on Saturday, 10 February, to reports that two people, who were possibly illegal immigrants, had been found at Hounsdown School in Totton. Officers have attended. No arrests have been made.”

Plans to cut migration levels

Ahead of the general election, migration - legal and illegal - has been a major talking point. As well as small boat crossings over the English Channel (nearly 30,000 recorded last year), Rishi Sunak has been under pressure from Tory MPs to take action on legal net migration, which reached a record 745,000 in 2022.

The government recently announced a raft of restrictions, set to come into force within weeks, in a bid to cut the number of people legally arriving in Britain.

The first changes come into force on 11 March, including restricting foreign care workers bringing relatives with them to the UK. From 4 April, the minimum salary threshold for people coming to the UK on skilled worker visas will also rise.

This will be followed by the hike in the minimum income requirement for family visas, which will be introduced in stages. The first increase, to £29,000, comes into effect from 11 April but is set to rise to £38,700 by early 2025, the Home Office said.

Projected net migration to the UK. (PA)
Projected net migration to the UK. (PA)

It comes as figures released last month suggested the UK population could reach nearly 74 million by 2036, with net migration adding around six million people.

The data, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), assumed a level of long-term net international migration of 315,000 a year from mid-2028 onwards.