Sharp decrease in stowaways found at Dutch ports

A Koninklijke Marechaussee officer and sniffer dog
A Koninklijke Marechaussee officer and sniffer dogPhoto: Koninklijke Marechaussee/Facebook

The number of people found trying to illegally cross from the Netherlands to the United Kingdom at Dutch ports decreased significantly in the first quarter of this year, according to figures released by the Koninklijke Marechaussee. In the first quarter, Marechaussee officers found 130 stowaways, compared to 240 in the same period last year.

The Marechaussee partly attributes the decrease in illegal migration to travel restrictions implemented in the Netherlands and abroad to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Borders throughout Europe are closed, so there is less opportunity for people to try and sneak into another country.

The vast majority of stowaways found in the first quarter, 92 percent, were found with the help of sniffer dogs, the Marechaussee said.

Marechaussee officers continue their inspections unabated. "People are still trying to make the crossing illegally in innovative ways," the service said. For example, a 31-year-old from the United Kingdom was arrested on May 10 on suspicion of people smuggling, after officers found two people hidden in a cupboard and in a box in the cargo area of his van.

The Koninklijke Marechaussee is a policing force that works as part of the Dutch military and is responsible for border security, including at airports and ports.