Road Haulage - the stowaway migrant problem
The UK isn't what anyone considers a hotspot of human trafficking – especially given the frequency with which countries such as Saudi Arabia, North Korea, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chinese rural provinces are in the News. These high-population places are infamous for the misuse of humans in all facets of illegal activities. The following piece from an international courier service in Glasgow, explains the growing problem.
Human Trafficking Comes to the UK
However, there is a significant problem with illegal immigrants in the UK, and the Lorries on which they are smuggled. Human trafficking has become a very rich operation for the degenerates willing to take advantage of human desperation, and one of the main things that UK authorities are doing to combat it puts them at odds with Lorry operators: fines.
This doesn't seem to be a good idea even on the surface, given that a sizable fraction of Lorry operators have no idea that there are human stowaways in their cargo holds. These humans are classified as "clandestine entrants," and are very costly to the persons found transporting them – whether they were doing it unwittingly or not.
This places Lorry drivers in a precarious position: if they find any clandestine entrants aboard once they reach port, or even in mid-transit, should they turn them in and accept the levied $2,000 pound fine (as of August 2015)? Or just let them go, since authorities don't appear to be interested in hearing any stories. In fairness, it's not like they could distinguish between true and false stories easily. There's more information on this at the Road Haulage Association website.
A Growing Problem for Truck Drivers
The number of clandestine entrants is growing explosively, and with such a large number of them trying to get to Britain from Calais by truck, drivers are becoming more and more disgruntled at having to pay fines for stowaways that they didn't even know about – presumably.
The law puts the onus on the drivers themselves to prove that they checked their vehicles thoroughly. Although this sounds like an easy solution, consider the case of a truck driver involved in road haulage, where clandestine entrants have resorted to some truly desperate acts to get onboard trucks – including climbing on moving vehicles. This driver detected what sounding like banging inside a trailer while on the road, and stopped to alert the authorities.
Despite the record of proper action, the driver's company was hit with several thousand pounds in fines for every one of the dozen migrants found inside. Even though the fine was later dismissed after an appeal, the company still lost nearly the same amount as the fine in the necessary legal bills to file the appeal in the first place! It truly, is a no-win situation for the drivers and the companies for which they work. Although the Home Office has expressly stated that their intent is not to punish law-abiding drivers who are doing their part as citizens to limit the presence of clandestine entrants, it doesn't always translate that this is, indeed, the case.
How Lorry Drivers Can Protect Themselves
It's important to pay attention to the letter of the law as proscribed by the Home Office in the case of fines for stowaways: if the driver of a truck is found to have carried out only a cursory, incomplete check, then the fine sticks. At 2,000 pounds per person, this can really add up – given that the clandestine entrants usually travel by the dozen these days.
Check the locks on the back of your truck before you begin the journey – especially between Britain and Calais, as that is the preferred destination of most of the entrants
In the past, it was advisable to stop if you heard a bang inside the truck; but these days the stowaways can easily number 20 or more and this is inadvisable – just call the police instead if you hear anything
If you discern any sounds coming from the top of your truck whilst in mid-transit, do not attempt to apprehend anyone – just drive the truck to the border police at Dover, so that you cannot later be accused of ignoring any warning signs
Most important of all, it is imperative that you perform a thorough check of your vehicle, as provided by the rules of the Home Office, so that if any clandestine entrants are discovered aboard, you won't be held liable
The fact is, clandestine entrants is a problem that has more than tripled in just a year, so the civil penalties levied against truck drivers is a hasty stop-gap to try and stem the tide. Hopefully new legislation will come into effect that better deals with the problem, without heaping financial burdens on truck drivers who are just doing their jobs. Until that time, however, it is up to the lorry drivers to ensure that they are on the right side of the law.