Lorry drivers caught using mobiles at the wheel should be sacked, says police chief

Companies whose LGV drivers use mobile phones at the wheel should sack them, according to the chief constable of Essex police.

Stephen Kavanagh said that his officers were “constantly” having to re-enforce the message about using mobile phones and that haulage companies should take a tougher stance.

“Some of the behaviours that go on; the texting that takes place, the conversations that can wait, or people that connect to blue tooth, they are just being lazy and we are ending up with cyclists and young people being killed on our streets,” he said.

“Professional agencies who employ people who get caught using mobile phones should dismiss them. Professional drivers should behave in a professional manner and the companies that employ them should start reinforcing some of these messages.”

Essex police and crime commissioner Nick Alston also backed the move: “That’s a really interesting idea and I think that’s one we should follow up.”

However, both the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Road Haulage Association said dismissals should only be considered following the results of a disciplinary inquiry:

“As far as the RHA is concerned, there’s no excuse for the misuse of mobile phones,” said RHA policy director Jack Semple. “That should be made clear in employment contracts and we do make it clear in RHA’s specimen contract we draw up for members.

“In terms of the consequences, lorry drivers face more serious penalties than other motorists so, as a rule of thumb, their vocational licence is likely to be suspended for three weeks by a TC for a first offence. The consequences are already significant," added Semple.

Second jail term for waste haulier

A Waste haulier has been sent to prison for a second time for operating sites without an environmental permit.

In a case brought by the Environment Agency (EA), Banbury Magistrates’ Court sentenced David Ham, 36, of the Old Dairy in Whelford, Gloucestershire, to a total of eight months’ imprisonment.

It also ordered him to pay £9,449 in costs for the waste offences at the Old Dairy and a facility in Faringdon, Oxfordshire.

The court was told that EA officers visited the two sites on several occasions in 2012 and this year, and re-served Ham with details of waste removal orders previously served to him by the court.

They advised him more than once that he had not complied with the court orders, and that he was found to be running an illegal waste transfer station at the Whelford facility - a site of special scientific interest.

Ham was previously sentenced to 25 weeks in prison at Oxford Magistrates’ Court in December 2011 for burning waste and running his illegal waste businesses without an environmental permit, from the Old Dairy and the Faringdon Business Park. In February 2010, a dumper truck, a grab lorry and a 360-degree excavator fitted with a grab were spotted at the Old Dairy, after the EA received several reports that waste was being burnt there.

At that time, officers visited the site on several occasions and found large piles of waste including paper, cardboard, wood, plastics, stone, soil and metals. EA investigations revealed that Ham was continuing to operate illegally at both sites.