Man chased by police checking on immigrants
POLICE officers chased an illegal immigrant through the streets of Southmead after he fled from his car cleaning job.
The Nigerian made off as soon as he saw police pull up at Clean Hands Valeting in Pen Park Road yesterday morning.
Members of Southmead neighbourhood policing team, the UK Border Agency, Safer Bristol and Avon Fire and Rescue carried out an operation to ensure several businesses were employing workers legally and complying with fire safety regulations.
But when the convoy of one marked van and two cars pulled up at Clean Hands, a 30-year-old man ran across the road in a bid to get away. He was chased by several officers who caught up with him on nearby Fonthill Road and arrested him.
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They found a large amount of cash in one of his pockets and when a UKBA officer carried out checks, she discovered he had entered the UK legally but had overstayed and had no right to remain here.
Hazel Barthelet, the driver who was having her car washed when the man ran away, could not believe what was happening.
The Henbury resident said: "I was sat in the car while he was washing it, on my phone, then all of a sudden he disappeared. I didn't know what was going on."
Hazel, who works in sales for Granite Transformation in Henleaze, added: "I was hoping to get someone else to wash my car but there's no-one else here. If I knew how to work the hose, I'd do it myself. Fortunately, I hadn't paid up front."
Martin White, who owns MW Autos next to Clean Hands, said: "It's a good thing when police do something like this. They (those arrested) probably come over here to get a better life, but there's ways and means of doing it and they've got to do it legally."
Another Nigerian man, who claimed to be under 18, was arrested on Southmead Road, having been found in possession of suspected fake identity documents and was also found to have overstayed in the UK.
Meanwhile, Safer Bristol community safety officer Cheryl Coles knocked on houses and businesses nearby reassuring people about what was going on.
Checks were also carried out on workers at Mario's car wash, located behind Clean Hands, but all of the staff there, who were Slovakian nationals, had the correct documentation and were legally in the UK.
Police Sergeant Matt Britton said: "The aims of today were to make sure these people are working legally and to make sure the premises were safe and sound. We've got local people who are working hard and trying to make a living. We want those people to be able to compete on an even playing field with everyone else."