An ex-paratrooper attempted to make a citizen’s arrest after coming across a group of illegal immigrants near Caddington.
Patrick Smith, 70, and his wife Christine were going shopping when they spotted men jumping from a slow-moving van on the A5 on Friday, May 29.
As a band of around 18 young men leapt out, the Smiths – both members of the parish council – kept watch and decided to take action after allegedly waiting over 20 minutes for a police response.
Mr Smith said: “I had no fear at all of taking them on, being an ex-paratrooper you do something on the spur of the moment.
“I grabbed two of them and we crashed to the ground. I managed to get their mobile phone and chased them but they made off.”
As police arrived in force, six of the men – all Vietnamese – were successfully apprehended and the Smiths handed over the retrieved mobile phone.
But as the drama died down, the couple spotted another man emerging from a field where the group were thought to have fled.
This time, Mr Smith grabbed the man – who was described as dirty and speaking no English – who was taken in by police. It later emerged the man had nothing to do with the incident and was entirely innocent.
Mr Smith added: “There’s no doubt about it, he was in a very poor condition. It’s just unfortunate that he was among them in that vicinity.”
A spokesman for Beds Police said: “We were called to reports that people had been seen jumping from the back of a vehicle in slow moving traffic on the A5 in Caddington at 12.30pm on Friday. Officers attended and six people were detained on suspicion of immigration offences and subsequently passed onto UK Border Force.
“While officers were searching the area, they had been stopped by a member of the public who believed he had detained a suspected illegal immigrant. However, checks were carried out and it was confirmed that the detained person had not committed any offences. No action was taken against the member of the public who had been acting with good intention.”
A Home Office spokesman added: “Home Office Immigration Enforcement was contacted by Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police forces on Friday May 29 after officers took a number of people into custody for suspected immigration offences.
“Six people, believed to be from Vietnam, have been passed to Home Office Immigration Enforcement for processing.”