On October 3rd 2019, a total of 39 bodies were discovered in a truck that had arrived at Purfleet in Essex. Those on board were from Malaysia, and are said to have suffocated on route. Driver Mo Robinson was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter.

Seeking a way into the country, many desperate individuals will make their way onto lorries and trucks. Crossing borders puts vehicles, and subsequently drivers, at risk.

– What penalties are there if you’re involved in illegal immigration?

If you’re found with stowaways on board, you could be subject to hefty fines. The UK Border Force can issue drivers or hauliers with fines of up to £2,000 for each person.

In 2015, firms faced a total £5.87 million of fines. Illegal immigrants onboard trucks are a significant concern for hauliers and drivers, meaning that everybody needs to take precautions.

– What can you to to increase security and avoid fines and legal action?

UK law calls these illegal immigrants by another name. To them, these are clandestine entrants. A clandestine entrant hides in or on a vehicle, to get through UK border control.

There are many precautions that you can take, to reduce the risk of transporting a clandestine entrant.

* Secure loading and unloading

Whilst you have control of the vehicle, ensure that it is loaded and unloaded in a suitable location.

* Vehicle security checklists

All drivers should have, and consistently use, vehicle security checklists. You can print a suitable security checklist directly from the government, or choose to create your own.

* Training for drivers

All drivers should have training that covers processes, including what to do if they find any stowaways on board. Their training should cover truck security, and they should be made aware of typical truck security risks and vulnerable spots on their vehicle.

* The right equipment

Security devices, such as padlocks, should be used to secure a vehicle as soon as it is loaded. This prevents stowaways from climbing on board once a loaded truck is left unattended.

Security equipment should be checked at regular intervals.

* Regular checks

En-route, drivers should check their vehicle at the end of every stop and before they cross a border. If they suspect that they have a stowaway, they should immediately contact the police whilst sitting in the cab of their vehicle. Drivers should not attempt to approach the stowaway themselves.

If they’re at a port, drivers can alert the Border Force. The driver, and haulage company, may be asked at a later date to prove that they’d taken all required precautions.

– How can you defend against a civil penalty?

In order to avoid legal action, you will need to be able to prove that the driver did not suspect that a clandestine entrant would be on board. It is also important to prove that effective truck security was in place, and that the driver (and anyone else in contact with the vehicle) followed the rules of operation.

The Civil Penalty Code of Practice is an important document for all hauliers and truck drivers to read through. By preparing and following checklists, you can reduce your risk of a stowaway and defend yourself if one is discovered.