The Civil Penalty scheme which fines lorry drivers and operators £2000 for each stowaway illegal immigrant found on their vehicles is extended (Monday 3 July) to all UK ports. Since 3 April it has operated only at Dover. The Freight Transport Association says that the scheme punishes innocent lorry drivers, themselves the victims of crime, and does not appear to be reducing the frequency of stowaway incidents.

FTA says that since 3 April the number of incidents at Dover has consistently amounted to around 18-20 each week. FTA Head of External Affairs Geoff Dossetter says ‘Of course the driver has primary responsibility for his vehicle and load and must do all he can to protect himself from carrying stowaways. But the vast majority of these people are put on board by criminals who then cover their tracks. The lorry driver is not only subjected to damage to his vehicle and contamination of his load, but then, as the victim of crime, faces prosecution when he arrives in the UK and discovers stowaways.

‘The Government should be helping the industry by establishing inspections at European ports of embarkation to the UK. Government policies indicate that illegal immigrants are clearly unwelcome in the EU and unwelcome in the UK. The lorry driver and transport industry are caught in the middle and suffering enormous fines’.