Priti Patel says 'broken system' encourages illegal migration
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Hauliers and lorry drivers are already charged if they are found with illegal immigrants but the Home Office has not ruled out extending this to tourists re-entering the UK. Plans for the new rule have been revealed in the Government’s New Plan for Imnmigration policy and aims to stop people smugglers in their tracks.
If approved by ministers, the scheme would see drivers immediately punished for having an “unsecured vehicle” when crossing the channel.
The rule states drivers could even be punished “regardless of whether clandestine entrants are found on board”.
The Government warns the current system is “not having enough of an effect” with drivers not taking the steps required to secure vehicles”.
The updates are part of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s crackdown on illegal immigration laws.
The new scheme said: “Under the current Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Regime, a maximum penalty of up to £2,000 can be imposed for every person found on board vehicles that have not been adequately secured, up to a statutory maximum of £4,000, where both driver and haulier are penalised.
“However, the fine level has not been changed for nearly 20 years and the current regime is not having enough of an effect as a high proportion of drivers and hauliers are not taking the steps required to secure vehicles.
“To increase the deterrent effect of the scheme and to drive up levels of vehicle security, we also plan to legislate to extend the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Regime to introduce a new penalty to also cover hauliers found with an unsecured vehicle, regardless of whether clandestine entrants are found on board or not.”
The Home Office warns the scheme is mostly aimed at increasing the security of lorries and hauliers.
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The Government said there were 1,869 cases of illegal immigrants detected in unsecured vehicles in 2020.
However, they said this was a ”lower volume of traffic” compared to previous years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Alongside the changes, the Government has warned it could “increase the maximum penalty” for those found entering illegally.
The New Plan for Immigration plan added: “We will consult with industry, on amending the code of practice, to set revised standards on minimum expected security levels on vehicles.
“This will take account of advances in vehicle security technologies since the regime was first introduced.
“We will also consult on another possible approach of imposing a penalty in all cases where a migrant is found on a lorry, even where the vehicle has been secured.
“We also wish to explore with industry whether there are other more extensive measures which would help to drive up compliance with the scheme and encourage greater numbers of drivers and hauliers to take more responsibility for countering the threat from illegal entry.”
Under current rules, hauliers can be fined if they do not have an effective system to secure their vehicles.
These include written instructions for drivers on how to use the system and robust security devices to prevent access to the vehicle.
These can include security devices such as padlocks, deals and tilt cords to ensure vehicles are secure before loading.
Drivers should also check their cars’ security devices and vehicle thoroughly after each stop and before entering the UK.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The focus of the enforcement of these measures will be hauliers who do not take appropriate measures to prevent illegal entry into the UK.”
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