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Stowaway fines soar

  • 18 July 2014
  • By Chris Tindall

Fines handed out to hauliers and lorry drivers after stowaways were found in HGVs have reached a three-year high, according to figures released by the Home Office.

Of more than 11,000 incidents investigated during 2012/13, 915 hauliers and lorry drivers received civil penalties. This was an increase on the 648 issued in 2011/12 and 814 in 2010/11.

CM reported in April that the number of clandestines caught trying to cross the channel had jumped by a fifth last year to 11,000 (CM 3 April).

The rise in civil penalties issued to hauliers has been blamed on migrant camps being cleared by French authorities in Calais, forcing people to take risks.

Speaking to BBC Radio Kent, the Freight Transport Association’s head of international affairs Don Armour said: “We do have reports that drivers are attacked by gangs, because these people are really, really desperate to get across the Channel to the UK and they are not necessarily going to let one lorry driver get in the way.

“At the moment we are pretty high on the risk scale.”

Anton Balkitis, road transport solicitor at Rothera Dowson, said most of the people it acted for were East European operators who had failed to adequately document their vehicle checks.

“There’s a defence if you can show you have a system in place to protect you, [but] how can you demonstrate that you have an effective system if there’s no document trail? That’s the problem. It’s often the paperwork that lets people down,” he said.

A Home Office spokesman said fines to haulage firms were “often running into the millions of pounds” , but he added: “We do not expect hauliers to make their lorries impregnable, merely ensure some basic checks are carried out. If they have been then there won’t be a fine. Often it is the same kind of checks that they would perform if they were securing their load.”

  • This story was first published in Commercial Motor‘s 10 July issue. Why not subscribe?


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