Stowaways are leading to "massive cost" in the supply chain, says MP

Stowaways attempting to enter the UK hidden in vehicles are causing lorry loads of goods to be condemned, leading to “massive cost” in supply chains, an MP said.

South East Cambridgeshire MP James Paice said criminals were relying on goods vehicles to smuggle immigrants into the country illegally, contaminating food produce and putting huge pressure on retailers.

Speaking in a House of Lords debate on the Serious Crime Bill (5 January), Paice urged the home secretary to address the issue of food supplies being affected by organised crime.

He said it was not just the odd lorry load and the problem was causing havoc in supply chains. “The lorries are unlocked and people are found inside. The whole load is then immediately condemned as unfit for human consumption, so there is massive cost and massive food waste.”

Paice said a business in his constituency had recently experienced a massive increase in incidences of stowaways found in loads.

Last year, Boston-based vegetable supplier TH Clements & Son said a reefer load of cabbages was destroyed after four men were found in the back of a supplier’s vehicle.

Transport manager Stuart Barton said: “In theory, the vegetables we deal with are destined for sale today and if the load is condemned then that has to have an effect on the supply chain. We have to fill the gap at short notice.

“Values can vary a lot. Often products coming from abroad tend to be quite expensive because of the transport costs.”