Illegal migrants found in trucks coming into the UK could spell bad news for truck operators.

The UK government plans to increase the fines given to those who have carried illegal migrants over the border.

However, it has been warned that the new penalties could make the country’s driver shortage worse.

The draft version of the Home Office’s ‘New Plan For Immigration’ proposed increasing the maximum penalty of £2,000.

Specifically, the move has been suggested ‘to ensure that it provides enough incentive to comply with the requirements of the schemes’. 

In addition, there is a new penalty for ‘failure to secure a vehicle’, regardless of whether an illegal migrant is found on board.

However, Chris Yarsley, policy manager at Logistics UK has hit back at the plans.

Hauliers and drivers shouldn’t be penalised if all precautions have been taken to protect their vehicles, he stated.

“People smuggling and clandestine attempts by desperate individuals to enter the UK are a humanitarian crisis,” he said. 

Yarsley admitted that illegal immigration was a ‘significant challenge for the haulage industry’.

Therefore, operators ‘remain determined to play their part in bringing the organised crime organisations’ involved to justice, he added. 

“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.”

Logistics UK strongly opposes the government’s proposal to expand the existing penalty scheme. 

“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,” argued Yarsley. 

Concluding, he said that the ‘detection systems used in ports aren’t fully effective in locating people’ hiding on a vehicle.