Training provider Fleet Source has developed a course for haulage operators and drivers to avoid crippling fines for carrying stowaways in their vehicles.

The first-ever dedicated Driver CPC accredited CEASE course aims to educate and inform drivers about the risks when illegal immigrants attempt to hide in their HGV.

It covers subjects such as clandestine entrant tactics, vehicle security, effective truck checks, personal security and what to do if a stowaway is identified.

Hauliers found to have clandestine entrants on their vehicle - even inadvertently - face significant penalties.

The government recently increased the fines, resulting in both operators and drivers now being forced to pay up to £10,000 per clandestine entrant, or £6,000 if a vehicle is identified as being insecure, even if no stowaway is found.

Drivers can face even more serious problems. Clandestine entrants, often exploited by people smugglers and desperate to escape threat, suppression and poverty, have threatened and even attacked drivers when they’re discovered.

Fleet Source chief executive Nick Caesari said: “Every year, an average of 8,500 people are detected entering the UK illegally using road transport.

“HGVs are the vehicle of choice, as there are so many places to hide.

“Border Force can’t check every vehicle, and so the real number of clandestine entrants will be much higher.”

Caesari added: “Although the Border Force civil penalty scheme mandates training as a requirement, there is a lack of detailed information from the UK government as to what this should include.

“Our new dedicated training course tackles this issue by giving drivers the guidance they need to maintain their safety and security, reduce the risk of clandestine entrants and avoid being fined.”