Prosecutions low as stowaway figures rise

Carol Millett
August 2, 2016

Failure to collect evidence at the scene of lorry drops of illegal immigrants in the UK has resulted in low levels of prosecution of the drivers and operators involved, according to a government report.

The number of illegal immigrants that were found in-country rather than at a port trebled between April and September 2015. The number of stowaways that arrived in an HGVs rose from 2,411 in 2014 to 6,429 in 2015.

The report, written by the independent inspector of borders and immigration David Bolt, praised the high prosecution rate of hauliers knowingly involved in bringing illegal immigrants into the country, but said the number of cases referred for criminal and civil prosecution was low because of a lack of hard evidence, especially for drops away from ports.

It said more could be done to ensure evidence is gathered at the scene. “For example by ensuring that any locks and seals on the lorry, whether intact or not, were photographed and seized as evidence and ensuring that any paperwork held by the driver was seized.”

No UK driver had been criminally prosecuted for aiding the clandestine entry of illegal immigrants between April 2014 and September 2015. British drivers, who accounted for 10% of cross-border traffic, received only 6.19% of civil penalty notices during this period.

“This suggests that British drivers and hauliers are more aware of, and take more care, than their foreign counterparts to comply with vehicle security measures required of them by the Home Office,” it concluded.

A Home Office spokesman said the government had invested millions of pounds in bolstering security at the ports in northern France.

Meanwhile, the RHA welcomed France’s pledge to keep border controls in Calais after Brexit. Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “This has long been a matter of major concern to hauliers that use the Dover-Calais crossing on a regular basis. It is the most efficient trade route between the UK and the continent.”

About the Author

Carol Millett

Carol Millett is an award-winning freelance journalist with over 30 years’ of experience writing across a broad range of sectors, including road transport, construction and civil engineering, project management, private finance, technology, HR, and travel and tourism. She is currently a regular contributor to a variety of DVV Media titles including Motor Transport Magazine, Commercial Motor and Transport News.

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