Responsible hauliers and drivers who are unwitting victims of people-smuggling gangs should not be penalised if all precautions have been taken to protect their vehicles, according to Logistics UK.
Logistics UK strongly opposes the government’s proposal to expand the existing penalty scheme to any haulier found with an illegal migrant in their vehicle, regardless of their compliance with load security standards or accreditation schemes. The business group argues that the detection systems used in ports are not fully effective in locating people hidden on board a vehicle; it is therefore unrealistic to expect hauliers and drivers, who are neither trained security staff nor immigration officials, to outperform government agencies.
The statement comes in response to the government’s consultation, New Plan for Immigration, that closed on 6th May 2021, which would see changes to the penalties imposed on logistics businesses and their drivers.
Speaking in response to the proposals which would revise the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Regime – whereby the driver and the haulier can be automatically fined up to £2,000 per migrant found on board a vehicle irrespective of their compliance with security measures and schemes – Chris Yarsley, Policy Manager at Logistics UK said: “People smuggling and clandestine attempts by desperate individuals to enter the UK are a humanitarian crisis which governments need to address on both sides of the Channel.
“The facilitation of illegal immigration into the UK by criminal gangs is a significant challenge for the haulage industry, with desperate individuals and organised crime groups actively targeting the vehicles of professional drivers and hauliers. It is vital that government recognises the regulated, industry standard schemes already in place, such as AEOS and Customs Seals which demonstrate that hauliers have implemented high security measures.”
Mr Yarsley continues: “These proposals could have a significant impact on supply chain operations by deterring businesses from bringing goods into the UK, in addition to reducing the attractiveness of HGV driving as a career option, at a time when the industry is suffering deeply from a worker shortage.”
The Logistics UK statement coincides with the imprisonment of a HGV driver in Scotland found in possession of a stun gun and pepper spray that he said was for defence against illegal immigrants.
McMurray was sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting possessing the stun gun and pepper spray illegally.
Prosecutor Bill McVicar said: “He stated that nobody else had access to the items and that he bought them for personal protection having been attacked by migrants in Boulogne, France, in 2018 when his arm was broken.”
The High Court in Glasgow heard that a stun gun, for which the driver paid £15 online with a free gift pepper spray, were found during a routine search of the driver’s lorry at the P&O Ferry Terminal in Cairnryan while travelling to Belfast.
McMurray was sacked from his job as a lorry driver because of the incident.
A petition to Parliament to make it legal to carry non-lethal self-defence weapons has gained over 30,000 since being launched in March 2021.