UK Government set to fine drivers and hauliers for unsecure lorries to cut illegal immigration

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The UK Government has launched an industry consultation on proposals for tougher penalties to tackle illegal migration, including a maximum penalty of £2,000 for hauliers and drivers who found carrying a clandestine entrant.

UK Government set to fine drivers and hauliers for unsecure lorries to cut illegal immigration
Photo credit @ Cheshire Police

In a statement published yesterday the Home Office said that as part of the continued fight against illegal migration and the criminal gangs behind it, changes to the existing clandestine entrant civil penalties scheme will be made through the Nationality and Borders Act.

The UK Government states that these changes include new civil penalties for hauliers and vehicle drivers who fail to adequately secure their vehicle and conduct proper checks – regardless of whether a clandestine entrant is found. This, it is said, is part of efforts to prevent dangerous journeys which risk serious injury or even death.

Explaining the reasons for the legislative changes and the aforementioned consultation, the Home Office notes that the number of clandestine entrants coming to the UK via lorry has increased since 2020. The government says it is determined to stop this, “including via these refreshed penalties for hauliers and vehicle drivers who leave themselves vulnerable to exploitation.”

By launching the consultation, the government writes it is seeking the views of “vehicle drivers, companies and other interested parties on all these new measures.” The consultation will run for 8 weeks and close on 12 September 2022. Besides the consultation, the Home Office will also be running a series of engagement events to explore these issues in more detail.

Commenting on the proposed changes and the consultation, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Simon Baynes MP said:

“We are determined to do all we can to prevent illegal entry into the UK. Criminal gangs who risk the lives of desperate people for profit are taking advantage of those whose vehicles travel in and out of the country. Far too many vehicles are currently not adequately secured, and we will seek to increase penalties on those who are negligent and prosecute those who are complicit.”

Baynes continued:

“This consultation is the next vital step in achieving this, and we look forward to working with the haulage industry and other interested parties to ensure that they are aware of the necessary requirements. The recently enacted Nationality and Borders Act is part of the government’s New Plan for Immigration to make it fairer for those in genuine need, deter illegal entry into the UK, break the business model of people-smuggling networks and remove those from the UK with no right to be here.”

In its reaction to the UK Government’s statement and consultation announcement, the RHA appeared to give a cautious welcome to the plans.

Writing on its website, the RHA said its members “strongly support ensuring the UK has a safe and effective border.” The association also stressed that it “has worked with Border Force and the Home Office to help improve the security of the border”.

“The RHA is committed to continue to support Border Force and the Home Office work in this area. We will continue to provide insights into the practical challenges drivers and operators face when dealing with criminal gangs and people seeking to force their way into lorries coming into the UK,” the RHA said in its statement.

The statement then continues as follows:

“It is vital when considering the operation the border that there is not an unrealistic expectation by Government that the onus is always on the driver and haulier to ensure security, regardless of what is within their control or not. Other parties and agencies also have to proactively deter illegal immigration too.”

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