Fines for lorry drivers who inadvertently bring stowaways into England to rise
Fines for lorry drivers who inadvertantly bring stowaways into Britain will rise from £2,000 to £10,000 per migrant, the immigration minister has announced.
Robert Jenrick told MPs the action was being taken as part of the Government's determination to 'crack down on illegal migration' and 'to dismantle the organised criminal gangs behind it'.
He admitted concerns that the current level of penalties for hauliers - which have been in place for more than 20 years - were not proving effective in ensuring drivers properly secure their vehicles from migrants.
The increased fines, new maximum penalty levels and a new penalty for failing to adequately secure a goods vehicle are expected to come into force from February 13.
The Goverment's reforms will also include new security standards for all vehicles.
In a written statement to the House of Commons, Mr Jenrick noted how there were 3,145 incidents where clandestine entrants were found hidden in vehicles in 2020-21.
This was despite the Covid pandemic seeing a lower volume of traffic across Britain's borders.
The figure rose to 3,838 incidents in 2021-22.
Jenrick said the Government was concerned the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme was 'not having enough of an effect'.
'Existing penalty levels have not changed since 2002,' he added.
'Drivers and other responsible persons are not taking the steps required to secure their vehicles, and clandestine entrants are continuing to use these routes to come to the UK.'
The scheme is aimed at tackling negligence by people who are not criminals, but whose carelessness means they are responsible for stowaways gaining access to a vehicle.
Under immigration legislation, the Government is able to penalise vehicle owners, hirers and drivers who fail to secure a vehicle and for carrying clandestine entrants to Britain.
The new maximum fine will apply for each migrant found in a vehicle, meaning if a driver has two stowaways they could face a £20,000 penalty.
Mr Jenrick said: 'Our reforms, including new penalty levels, have been designed to strike a better balance between disincentivising negligence and failures to comply with vehicle security standards, while ensuring that the regime is not overly burdensome on industry.'
Those who do deliberately attempt to smuggle people into Britain face criminal prosecution, rather than fines under the civil penalty scheme.