The number of fines issued for truckers entering the UK with migrants on board their vehicles has tripled in the past three years. Drivers face an on-the-spot penalty of £2,000 for every person found hidden on their truck, despite the fact that the British and French governments are responsible for the migrant crisis in Calais.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, obtained by ITV, show that the number of truckers fined increased from 998 in 2012/13 to 3,319 in 2014/15, the latter being the worst year for Calais’ migrant crisis so far.
The penalties were introduced 15 years ago when the situation in Calais was very different to how it is now. There are over 5,000 migrants camped out in and around Calais today, and their methods and determination are increasing all the time.
Only seven per cent of the drivers were British according to the Home Office, but many more are working for British firms. At a time when the industry is being hit hard by, and losing business because of, the tunnel disruption hefty fines are likely to hurt firms.
The penalties were brought in to punish drivers who did not bother to even lock or check their vehicles. Migrants today, however, are known to use bolt cutters and knifes, to ride on lorry roofs and to become aggressive and even violent when approached by drivers.
With the spotlight now shone on Calais, migrants are increasingly trying their luck boarding trucks further inland. Drivers have been advised by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) not to stop within 60 miles of the crossing.
Donald Armour, manager of the international department at the FTA, said the vast majority of drivers took the proper steps to secure and protect their vehicles, but the immigrants were finding news methods of evasion.
He told The Daily Express: “The problem has definitely increased in recent years and you’ve got huge numbers of people making a real effort to come across.
“Whereas they used to come in ones or twos, you’re now often finding 10 to 20 people smuggling themselves on board at any one time.
“The public ask why drivers don’t secure their vehicles better but many go to great lengths to stop this happening.
“You find immigrants getting in through the roof, slashing the canvas sides of lorries or jimmying off locks.
“When you’re facing that kind of determination, there is only so much you can do and the only real solution is better control of the immigration situation.”