CommercialFleet

Law firm calls for Calais fines to be waived as hauliers face £4m bill

THGV driver, truck driver.

Law firm Moore Blatch is calling on the Government to waive fines for haulage companies and drivers who unwittingly transport migrants in their vehicles until the escalating border control situation in Calais has been rectified.

Transport companies have been fined more than £4 million after migrants were found in their vehicles - with the number of fines up 50% on last year.

More than 3,300 fines were issued by UK Border Force staff in 2014-15, up from 2,177 in 2013-14, the BBC reports.

According to Moore Blatch, the dangers of intimidation, personal violence and a threat of fines are fuelling a health and safety issue for drivers and their employers. 

Drivers forced to check their vans or trucks can find themselves in danger of being attacked by migrants desperate to cross the UK border, it says.

Currently, drivers and haulage companies are legally obliged to protect their vehicles from people coming into the UK without going through proper immigration controls.

The UK Border Agency imposed a mandatory £2,000 fine - known as a civil penalty – for each illegal migrant found in their lorries, in April 2015.

In addition, a code of practice set out by the Government must be adhered to by both driver and employer in order to prevent clandestine entrance.  This calls for appropriate security measures, such as padlocks, seals, tilt cord and recording checks on a vehicle’s security checklist.

Moore Blatch is calling for the Government to revisit its advice to lorry drivers, which calls for those who suspect that somebody is in, under or on a vehicle, not to go through UK Border Control but to contact local police.

It is clearly unsustainable for every lorry driver approaching Calais to summon police every time he sees a migrant in his rear view mirror, it says.   

Moore Blatch also argues that in the event of fines not being suspended and employers continuing to insist on checks, new ways will have to be found to support drivers, such as investing in security safeguards or extra personnel.

David Thompson, managing partner at Moore Blatch, said: “This is a Catch-22 situation for the hauliers and drivers, many of whom have to cross the borders several times a week – some even daily. 

“Either they risk a hefty fine by the UKBA for every illegal migrant caught hiding in their vehicle, or they risk their lives confronting determined migrants. 

“It is all very well for politicians and civil servants sitting in Whitehall setting out these regulations, but we have to recognise that, in reality, if a driver is threatened physically at the point of embarkation, the driver may have little choice but to commit the offence.”

 



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Comments

  • Dave - 05/08/2015 20:18

    I never thought I would be siding with lawyers, but only a fool would argue against this proposal. These truckers should be given a medal, not a fine!

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