A SENIOR police officer has warned right wing groups are targeting schoolchildren following the huge influx of migrant workers into the area.

Inspector Glynn Hookings, community safety officer for Wiltshire Police, said the British National Party had been handing out literature to vulnerable youngsters at secondary schools and colleges across west and north Wiltshire, including Trowbridge.

He said: "If there are hard-to-place young individuals, such as those with low educational achievement, or who may have been in prison or even have a disability, there is a danger for radicalisation by the Far Right.

"There is a perception that migrant workers are taking our jobs', that opportunities might have been there but for migrant workers.

"These young people can be disaffected and become susceptible to the Far Right groups."

Insp Hookings said leaflet campaigns by the BNP had been targeting youngsters, prompting students, parents and the schools to raise concerns.

"They have not done anything illegal but there is a danger, particularly in the run-up to the local elections, that any political parties might use the issue of migrant workers, because it is a relatively new phenomenon for us," he said.

"There is a tendency for them to be demonised when this is perception not reality. All the evidence is that we need migrant workers, that they are supporting our economy and the diversity of our community."

Migration is a hot topic both locally and nationally. In Trowbridge the number of Polish workers alone has soared to about 3,000 since the country joined the EU in 2004.

Nationally Polish workers now represent the largest minority group in the UK and more migrant workers are likely to arrive from Bulgaria and Romania when these countries join the EU next year.

In Trowbridge, where there is already a well-established and integrated Polish community, police are working with other groups to try and make sure the newcomers receive help and support and are not exploited.

In the town library sessions now offer advice on housing, health, fire safety and other topics in Polish.

Police handed out Polish language cards to door staff at pubs and clubs during this year's football World Cup and there are moves to recruit Polish-speaking support officers, in the wake of a 500 per cent increase in the need for translators by the force.

Insp Hookings said: "The positives of the migrant workers by far outweigh the negatives.

"They have the right to move across Europe and so do we and it is our responsibility to look after that community while they are here."