Surge in Channel stowaways sees haulier fines soar towards £10m mark

More than 39,000 attempts to cross the Channel by illegal immigrants were detected last year – and are likely to have cost operators £10m.

As the crisis at Calais and in Kent finally began to ease, the Home Office told commercialmotor.com that the number of clandestines caught trying to get into the UK between April 2014 and April 2015 was more than double the previous year.

It said Border Force and the French authorities detected tens of thousands of stowaway attempts at the juxtaposed controls on both sides of the border.

And although the Home Office was unable to confirm exactly how many fines were issued to haulage firms and drivers during the period, it issued £4.2m in 2013/14 when there were 18,000 attempts by immigrants.

During 2012/13 there were 11,000 attempts, costing hauliers £1m.

According to vehicle camera firm SmartWitness, more than 350 stowaways were caught in just four hours in the congestion caused by the first wave of strikes in Calais last week.

It said sales of its in-cab camera systems have shot up by 20% this year as hauliers seek out extra protection:

“We have received an unprecedented number of orders from UK haulage firms who are having to take precautionary measures to prevent illegal immigrants from getting on board their lorries,” said SmartWitness international sales director Mark Berry.

500th ATF opened in County Durham

The 500th ATF was opened yesterday by DVSA chief executive Alastair Peoples at Daf dealership Chatfields in County Durham.

Marking the occasion Peoples said that almost 93% of truck, trailer and passenger vehicle testing was being conducted at private sites.

He said: “I know local operators and drivers in the County Durham area will quickly see the benefits of having a greater choice of where they can have their vehicles tested.

“ATF customers from across the country tell me they have seen savings on fuel costs, vehicle down-time, lower CO2 emissions and improved first-time pass rates and I expect to hear similar feedback from operators and drivers using this facility,” he added.