Truck drivers need protection from people smuggling penalties

11 May 2021

A leading freight transport body has said that responsible hauliers and drivers who are unwitting victims of people smuggling gangs should not be penalised if all precautions have been taken to protect their vehicles.

Logistics UK was responding to the Government’s consultation, “New plan for immigration”, that closed on 6 May 2021. This would see changes to the penalties imposed on logistics businesses and their drivers regarding vehicle security and migrant incursions.

In particular, the proposals would revise the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Regime — whereby the driver and the haulier can be automatically fined up to £2000 per migrant found on board a vehicle irrespective of their compliance with security measures and schemes.

Policy Manager at Logistics UK, Chris Yarsley, said: “The facilitation of illegal immigration into the UK by criminal gangs is a significant challenge for the haulage industry, with desperate individuals and organised crime groups actively targeting the vehicles of professional drivers and hauliers.”

He went on to say, while operators remain determined to play their part in bringing the organised crime organisations which prey on innocent migrants to justice, the Government must, however, recognise that responsible operators and drivers are themselves the victims of these groups.

Logistics UK strongly opposes the proposal to expand the existing penalty scheme to any haulier found with an illegal migrant in their vehicle, regardless of their compliance with load security standards or accreditation schemes.

Mr Yarsley said that the Government must recognise the regulated, industry standard schemes already in place, such as AEOS (Authorised Economic Operator — Safety) and Customs Seals which demonstrate that hauliers have implemented high security measures.

“The detection systems used in ports are not themselves fully effective in locating people hidden on board a vehicle,” he concluded. “It is unrealistic to expect hauliers and drivers, who are neither trained security staff nor immigration officials, to outperform government agencies.”