One Calais migrant caught every THREE minutes: New 'secure zone' to protect lorry drivers after 8,000 attempts by immigrants to get to UK in the last three weeks alone

One immigrant caught every 3 minutes trying to sneak into Britain illegally

About 11,300 stowaways were captured in three-week period from June 21

New 'secure zone' will cater for 230 vehicles, equivalent of a 2.5 mile queue

Home Secretary said this would provide protection for lorries and drivers

She said lorries on the open road had become 'targets for migrants'

One immigrant is caught every three minutes trying to sneak into Britain illegally, figures show.

Around 11,300 stowaways were captured in a three-week period from June 21 – revealing the extent to which the UK’s borders are now under siege.

Some 8,100 illegal migrants were stopped in France by British immigration officers working at Calais, while security staff discovered another 3,200 in trucks trying to sneak through the Channel Tunnel.

In a bid to tackle the growing crisis, Home Secretary Theresa May announced a new ‘secure zone’ for British-bound lorries at the beleaguered French port to stop vehicles being targeted by foreigners desperate to reach the UK.

Able to accommodate 230 wagons, equivalent to a two-and-a-half mile queue, she said it would provide protection for drivers by ‘removing them from the open road where they can become targets for migrants’.

But the secure area, expected to be open in the autumn and monitored by French police, was dismissed by hauliers as too little.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, told MPs that the situation in Calais was ‘out of control’ and criticised delays in opening the secure zone.

He said: ‘This isn’t fast enough. We’ve got drivers being threatened with bars and knives. We’ve had an example of a driver being threatened with a gun. This is unprecedented and it’s escalating. We need action now.’

He added that his organisation’s drivers had been ‘let down’ by the Government and also said the French military should be called in to boost security in Calais.

As Mrs May told the Home Affairs Select Committee of the latest plans to try to ease the crisis, it also emerged that:

The number of migrants living in shanty towns around Calais is now estimated to have reached 5,000, up from around 600 in January;

Eurotunnel security guards have foiled 28,000 stowaways concealed on trucks near Calais so far this year;

In the five weeks since the start of June, Kent Police found 405 illegal immigrants who had reached the UK compared to just 26 in the first five months of the year;

Fresh food worth £1billion a year is being thrown away because it has been contaminated by illegal immigrants in lorries;

Lorry drivers paid fines totalling £6.6million for carrying stowaways into Britain through Calais in 2014-15, up from £4.2million the previous year. Some 93 per cent were foreign drivers.

Calais is facing an ongoing crisis as increasing numbers of refugees fleeing war and humanitarian disasters in Africa and the Middle East try to reach the UK.

Problems have been compounded by militant French ferry workers, who last month launched a wildcat strike and blockaded the port, crippling cross-Channel services and forcing truckers to sit in 50-mile traffic jams.

Transport firms have said drivers are being targeted by up to 20 migrants at a time trying to clamber on to their vehicles, and that French police simply release any captured stowaways to have another go.

Mrs May blamed ‘irresponsible French strikers’ for exacerbating the chaos, but pledged to ‘smash’ crime gangs who are charging migrants up to £1,200 a time to be smuggled across the Mediterranean to Europe.

Read more: Calais secure zone to protect lorry drivers and prevent immigrant UK attempts | Daily Mail Online