The boss of a Northampton international haulage firm accredited with Border Force has criticised the Home Office after it was fined £66,000 when six stowaways got into one of its trucks.

Ed Rogers, director at EM Rogers Transport, said there was nowhere safe in northern France for drivers to park up after illegal immigrants broke into its HGV eight hours from Calais port.

EM Rogers said HGV drivers cannot park safely anywhere near Calais Port

EM Rogers said HGV drivers cannot park safely anywhere near Calais Port

Source: Shutterstock

Rogers said the company went “above and beyond” what is required by the UK government to ensure vehicles were safe from being broken into – and yet six clandestine entrants still managed to sneak into one of the fleet’s vehicles.

And he branded the huge fine “frankly ridiculous” and added that hauliers were the victims of organised gangs.

The haulier is now seeking legal advice following the incident last November; however, the Home Office looked unlikely to back down.

It told Motor Transport the company was a repeat offender and had been involved in multiple incidences of stowaways breaking into its vehicles.

Rogers said it was still unclear how the illegal immigrants managed to get into the curtain-sided truck: “We do visibility checks on loading and once they’re stopped for breaks,” he said.

“We seal the trailer, padlock the trailer and there’s a TIR cord round the side. We go above and beyond what is required by Border Force to protect vehicles and drivers.

“There’s quarterly training and audits of paperwork to check they are doing the checks correctly and are up to speed.

“We also have security devices on the back of the trailer that lets you know if trailer doors have opened.”

Rogers added: “We have regular meetings with Border Force - we are literally willing to open our doors to Border Force to help them. How can we ensure we are not vulnerable to these astronomical fines?”

The director said it was optimistic it could fight the penalty but he also said it was aware the situation could happen again at any time: “These are organised criminals putting people in vehicles and with the number of crossings we do every week, we are susceptible to it.

“It’s becoming more and more challenging. Our guys can’t park safely around Calais overnight. There is no secure parking and so they are parking up further and further away.

“Our driver is in his mid-60s. He left a parking area in the pitch black at 3am. He’s not a security guard, he’s a truck driver.”

The Home Office said the company was aware of the processes involved in securing vehicles and that issues with stowaways were “a long standing problem” at EM Rogers.

A spokesman said: “We are relentless in our pursuit of those who seek to enter the UK illegally, and stand ready to respond robustly to clandestine arrivals.

“Far too many vehicles are not adequately secured to stop migrants boarding them. That’s why, in the last 12 months, we have strengthened the haulier civil penalty with significantly increased financial penalties to ensure that drivers are taking every reasonable step to deter illegal migration and disrupt people smugglers.”