22 May 2015

Beds in sheds: is illegal immigration getting out of hand?

David Cameron chose the west London borough of Ealing to launch the government’s latest crackdown on illegal immigrants. According to official figures, he said, there were 300 houses of multiple occupancy in the area, where the likelihood is illegal migrants are hiding out.

But away from the official numbers, on the ground, the PM was told the real number was closer to 20,000 homes.

“I assumed they meant across the whole of London,” the Mr Cameron joked. “But no, they meant in Ealing alone!”

Channel 4 News spent the day there yesterday, talking to locals, to see if their experience of living in the area chimed with what David Cameron had to say.

It didn’t take long to see that it did. Every second person said illegal immigration in Ealing and its outskirts – particularly Southall – was a big problem.

And it’s not just migrants hiding 10-to-a-house. They’re hiding in sheds in the bottom of gardens too.

In truth, this wasn’t a new revelation – our own Jon Snow reported on rogue landlords in Southall in 2011, and ITV news also broadcast a story on overstayers (the official term for illegal immigrants) crammed into sheds in Slough.

But what was new yesterday was the scale of the problem. From 300 suspected homes to 20,000 in Ealing borough alone. Here’s a link to a raid covered in the local paper earlier this year.

But what can the government do about it? Well, on that the views were more mixed, as our report reveals.

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