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Home Office refutes light touch approach to stowaway fines at ports

  • 31 July 2014
  • By Chris Tindall

The Home Office has denied that it is applying a light touch in regards to issuing penalties to hauliers caught entering the UK with migrants on board.

In the wake of the volatile situation in Calais, which has seen increasing numbers of migrants targeting lorries in a bid to reach the UK, CM has seen correspondence suggesting officials have leeway when it comes to fines.

The email, from the Border Security Unit in response to a haulier’s query, reads: “I have spoken with senior Border Force operational managers and the Command and Control Unit and can confirm the Border Force and the French authorities are aware of the situation and are working together to secure the approach to the port.

“Standing advice remains to call the French authorities if there are safety concerns. Any civil penalty action during this period will be looked at with these circumstances forming part of the mitigation. Circumstances could arise where it is not appropriate to impose a civil penalty. That being said the Home Office expects vehicles to be secured in line with the prevention code of practice.”

However, in response to CM, a Home Office spokesman said: “There has been no change in policy in terms of issuing civil penalties to hauliers or haulage firms.

“Within the civil penalty legislation there is an allowance for mitigating factors.”

Official Home Office advice remains that drivers and hauliers must demonstrate that they have taken adequate steps to secure their vehicles from stowaways, or else face civil penalties of up to £2,000 per stowaway.

With thousands of migrants fleeing conflicts in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries, coupled with the decision to close migrant camps in and around Calais, there has been a rise in stowaways making use of the lorries to cross the Channel, and a related jump in attempts to gain passage.

Last week, CM reported that a group of hauliers had set up a campaign called Enough is Enough to highlight the situation at European ports. The group now has more than 3,000 members on Facebook and a related e-petition – UK and European lorry drivers/hauliers safety from clandestine attacks – has now passed the 2,000 signatures mark.

Earlier this month CM reported the number of fines issued to HGV drivers has soared to a three-year high.

  • This article first appeared in the 24 July print edition of Commercial Motor. Why not subscribe today?


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