Due to the increase of illegal immigrants smuggled into the UK each year, HGV drivers and haulage operators are being charged fines that continue to rise yearly. In 2015 a total of £58.7m was charged to haulage operators due to immigration, which has doubled over the last three years. The numbers are only expected to increase in the upcoming years.
If an operator’s vehicle is found with stowaways the driver and company can be fined up to £2,000 per illegal immigrant for their entry into the UK. Operators across the UK have been charged fines that have ruin their chance of any kind of profits. All due to migrants being found in the back of their vehicles during security checks, in many cases also costing the driver their job.
Haulage operators are now using sensors to alert drivers of any movement inside trailers, meaning they are warned of any stowaways before returning to the UK and averting any fines the company may face.
Many haulage operators across the UK are limiting themselves to national work rather than international to avoid any risk of immigrants finding their way onto one of their vehicles.
In many cases hauliers contact the police when finding migrants in the back of their vehicle, however they are still fined with few reductions, impacting on their job. This gives no motivation to hauliers to contact the authorities when finding migrants in their vehicle.
Recently truck driver Peter Clark asked UK Officials to check his vehicle while in Calais as he knew it was an easy target for immigrants. They found 5 stowaways inside his vehicle
, which he was charged £2,000 for while the immigrants were released back into the streets of Calais. Firms feel the Government isn’t doing enough to support lorry drivers, especially in cases such as Mr Clark who reported his suspicions of immigrants to authorities, only to suffer a major fine because of his honesty. 7,000 migrants have entered the UK via ports, with many others across the UK. 50% were discovered at the ports while others were sighted across the UK.
Migrants caught on dashcam breaching a lorry in Calais
Summer is the peak time for immigration, meaning the fines for 2016 will continue to vastly increase during the next few months with over 3,500 immigrants around Calais searching for access into the UK. With the increasing security around Calais since the breach in January (when over 50 migrants made their way onto a ferry) less secure ports are also now being targeted for immigration, as the odds of passing security are more likely. This includes ports in the Netherlands and Belgium.
On the matter of immigration and the fine drivers face the Home Office stated: ‘All drivers must take simple steps to avoid illegal immigrants boarding. Failure to take these steps can result in a fine.’ In cases such as Mr Clark’s the Immigration and Asylum Act of 1999 fails to mention any specifications for vehicles such as cement mixer trucks, focusing on closed trailers.
As it currently stands the driver, owner and hirer can be fined up to £2000 per immigrant found during a search. It seems as though the Home Office would rather make all firms pay the consequences without any consideration for specific requirements from vehicles. Due to recent events many feel the policy requires a major update, however the Home Office stubbornly deny the urgency for a new act in light of the recent large increase of immigration over the past 3 years.