Last reviewed 4 August 2022

The Home Office is proposing to bring forward new regulations related to vehicle security including a new civil penalty for failure to secure a goods vehicle.

It is consulting on the proposals with responses required by 12 September 2022 and full details are available — here.

This consultation is aimed at:

  • anyone who drives a vehicle which is going to enter the UK, including private drivers and commercial drivers

  • anyone who is the owner or hirer of a vehicle which is going to enter the UK

  • anyone who is the owner, hirer or operator of a detached trailer which is going to enter the UK.

The Home Office intends to narrow the statutory defences available to those who have carried a clandestine entrant and to increase the maximum penalty and maximum aggregate penalty for carrying such a person from the current £2000 and £4000.

Following this consultation, the regulations and a new Level of Penalty: Code of Practice will be laid before Parliament, although there is no indication when the changes might come into force.

During the financial year 2020‒21, there were 3145 incidents where clandestine entrants were detected concealed in vehicles, despite the Covid-19 pandemic causing a lower volume of traffic. This rose to 3838 incidents during the financial year 2021‒22.

Under the new Nationality and Borders Act 2022, it will no longer be a statutory defence to say that an effective system for preventing the carriage of clandestine entrants was in operation. It also introduces a new civil penalty for failing to adequately secure a goods vehicle, regardless of whether a clandestine entrant has been found.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said: “It is vital when considering the operation at the border that there is not an unrealistic expectation by Government that the onus is always on the driver and haulier to ensure security, regardless of what is within their control or not. Other parties and agencies also have to proactively deter illegal immigration too”.