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Protect drivers against people smuggling penalties, says Logistics UK

Responsible hauliers and drivers who are unwitting victims of people-smuggling gangs should not be penalised if all precautions have been taken to protect their vehicles, Logistics UK has said.

The statement comes in response to the government’s consultation, New Plan for Immigration, that closed last week (6 May 2021), which would see changes to the penalties imposed on logistics businesses and their drivers regarding vehicle security and migrant incursions. 

Commenting in response to the proposals which would revise the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Regime – whereby the driver and the haulier can be automatically fined up to £2,000 per migrant found on board a vehicle irrespective of their compliance with security measures and schemes – Chris Yarsley, Policy Manager at Logistics UK, argued that people smuggling and clandestine attempts by desperate individuals to enter the UK are a humanitarian crisis which governments need to address on both sides of the Channel. 

“The facilitation of illegal immigration into the UK by criminal gangs is a significant challenge for the haulage industry, with desperate individuals and organised crime groups actively targeting the vehicles of professional drivers and hauliers,” Yarsley said. “Operators remain determined to play their part in bringing the organised crime organisations which prey on these innocent migrants to justice, but the government must recognise that responsible operators and drivers are themselves the victims of these groups. It is vital that government recognises the regulated, industry standard schemes already in place, such as AEOS and Customs Seals, which demonstrate that hauliers have implemented high security measures.” 

“Logistics UK strongly opposes the government’s proposal to expand the existing penalty scheme to any haulier found with an illegal migrant in their vehicle, regardless of their compliance with load security standards or accreditation schemes,” Yarsley continued, “When an individual takes all reasonable measures to mitigate the risk of illegal entrants, it is unfair to deprive the vehicle operator of any defence and simply issue an automatic penalty, the cost of which will be prohibitive for many smaller operators. The detection systems used in ports are not themselves fully effective in locating people hidden on board a vehicle; it is unrealistic to expect hauliers and drivers, who are neither trained security staff nor immigration officials, to outperform government agencies. These proposals could have a significant impact on supply chain operations by deterring businesses from bringing goods into the UK, in addition to reducing the attractiveness of HGV driving as a career option, at a time when the industry is suffering deeply from a worker shortage.” 


Published On: 13/05/2021 17:00:33


In brief


Commenting on the Queen’s Speech earlier this week (11 May 2021), Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director at Logistics UK, said that while it contained some encouraging headlines, the devil will be in the detail, which the logistics sector is eagerly awaiting. “The new legislation to be passed before parliament must include a provision to deal with the acute shortage of drivers,” she said, “which our industry has faced for a number of years. The government needs to make level 2 eligible for funding to provide a gateway for new entrants to the industry and recognise the value which logistics businesses at all levels bring to the economy in its planning proposals.”


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