Haulage companies and lorry drivers entering the UK from Calais and elsewhere have been fined more than £4m after allegedly illegal migrants were found on their trucks.
Figures published yesterday by the BBC, show that over 3,000 fines were levied by UK Border Force officials in 2014/5, an increase of over 50% on the year before.
The fines, known as civil penalties, can be up to £2,000 per migrant and can apply to both drivers and their employers.
According to the Home Office, only 7% of penalties imposed were issued to British drivers, although a Border Force Spokesman claimed that “one third of lorries arriving at the UK border do not have basic standards of security.”
The official also stated that “Drivers who can show they have taken simple steps to secure their vehicles will not receive a penalty.”
Many operators and drivers are up in arms about the fines, which they say are highly unfair. Haulage companies say that they have mounted a legal challenge and, early next year, the Court of Appeal in London will look at whether the penalties are in fact being “fairly applied”.
What the law states
Road transport firms and their drivers are required by law to secure vehicles entering the UK to stop “clandestine entrants”. A clandestine entrant is defined as person who hides in or on a vehicle, (for example a lorry), to avoid going through UK border control.
A driver who fails to secure a vehicle and is found carrying clandestine entrants into the UK face a fine, also known as a civil penalty, of up to £2,000 per illegal entrant carried. The driver, owner or hirer can all be fined.
The law applies to all arrivals into the UK, including from sea ports such as Calais and Zeebrugge, and on the Channel Tunnel/Eurotunnel Shuttle.
If you are an owner, operator or driver and wish to object to or appeal against a fine, we can help. We can also advise on the steps you should take to avoid fines in the first place and discuss the civil penalty accreditation scheme which helps companies in this position.
Call us on 0808 231 3908