Drivers or their employers were handed 3,522 civil penalties in 2016/17 after migrants were found in their vehicles, according to new figures.
This number represents a 12% rise on the previous 12 months, according to Home Office data, released following a Freedom of Information request by law firm Nockolds. The fines totaled £7.8 million.
Drivers or hauliers can be fined up to £2,000 for each stowaway that is discovered where they haven’t taken reasonable measures to secure and check their vehicles. However, these civil penalty notices can be appealed.
In response, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has called for the system for fining drivers to be overhauled, calling it ‘outdated’.
Richard Burnett, chief executive of the RHA, said: “These latest figures clearly show that the situation on the other side of the Channel is getting worse. We are getting regular reports from members making the Calais/Dover crossing that despite the ‘Jungle’ being dismantled last October, the number of migrants intent on reaching the UK is increasing. We advise all hauliers crossing the Channel to adhere to the Home Office advice regarding precautionary and safety measures.
“These drivers are doing a great job and the economy on both sides of the Channel is massively dependent upon them. However, with the best will in the world, if they have to halt because of migrant action such as that seen [last month] when a driver was killed, they have no alternative but to stop their vehicles. When that happens they instantly become sitting ducks for the ever-increasing numbers of people-traffickers who are just cashing in on the situation.
“They will stop at nothing to make money and the migrants themselves are prepared to pay them; whatever the cost.
“We now regularly hear of hauliers who are throwing in the towel. They just want to do their job – not face regular acts of intimidation or violence. And who can blame them?
“The situation has now escalated to the point where the frustration on the part of migrants and the ever increasing number of violent attacks has reached the stage where the divers themselves are, in effect, having to police their own vehicles to establish if a migrant incursion has occurred. This cannot be right. The Clandestine Civil Penalty scheme to tackle lax and careless operators was introduced in 1999 at a time when the number of illegal migrants heading towards the UK was considerably less. The playing field has now changed and we believe that the scheme is outdated and must be reviewed.
“For those operators who are prepared to carry on regardless, the possibility of fines is immense. And if they are unfortunate enough to become victims of the migrants, they have no alternative but to pass the cost of the fines on to their customers.”
We hope you enjoyed this article! For more news, views and reviews on all aspects of the truck driver’s life subscribe today.