Innocent truckers hit hard with fines for stowaways on lorries

The RHA has said innocent lorry drivers crossing the Channel from France are landing huge fines for stowaways breaking into their trucks. Firms are paying thousands in the charges even when drivers have made every reasonable effort to prevent people getting on board.

Rhys Williams, RHA Regional Operations Manager told radio listeners that stowaways are known to clamber into UK-bound lorries in French Channel ports, often undetected until they get to UK Border Force security.

He told BBC Northampton that sophisticated people-smuggling gangs target British registered trucks on the continent. Some criminals cut holes into stationary lorry trailer roofs before migrants lower themselves in. Others quickly secure stowaways through the back doors before expertly resealing them, making it difficult to detect if they’ve been tampered with.

Northampton-based RHA  members, E.M. Rogers has been hit with £24,000 in fines after three stowaways were found on board a truck coming back to the UK. They said this is despite being part of a Government scheme recognising firms who run effective systems to prevent incursions.

The Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme recognises those hauliers who take measures to operate an effective system for securing goods vehicles and for preventing the carriage of clandestine entrants. It also recognises those coach companies that run an effective system in the prevention of clandestine entrants.

Earlier this year the Government increased the maximum fines from £2,000 to £10,000 for each stowaway found on a truck coming into the UK.

The RHA said they supported Government efforts to crack down on truckers colluding with people smugglers but said the fines were “unfair and unjust” on innocent lorry drivers who’d taken every precaution but were found with migrants on board.

RHA member Kevin Hopper of Brian Yeardley Transport commented: “There is nothing more we can do [we have] spent tens of thousands of pounds on securing its vehicles but added that there was no guarantee the measures can prevent migrant incursions. Our vehicles have armoured curtainsides, armoured roofs and high tensile sealing cords. We have welded padlocks and have even welded the hinges on the back doors – as a haulier what more can we do?”