Illegal immigration is a huge topic right now across the globe. Every year, thousands of migrants attempt to travel between countries illegally, hitching a ride on various different freight vehicles. For freight companies this can lead to serious problems and costly fines if vehicles aren’t secured against these illegal immigrants.
In the UK, a vehicle driver, owner or hirer can be fined up to £2000 for every ‘clandestine entrant’, a person who hides in or on a vehicle to avoid UK border control, who tries to enter the UK. This law applies to every vehicle entering the UK, whether via sea port or even the Eurotunnel. There are controls in place at each border crossing to try and prevent this. At the Eurotunnel shuttle, there is a 40km perimeter fence around the entire terminal, along with an array of infra-red detectors, thermal detection sensors and hundreds of CCTV sensors. Yet, while borders do have their own security measures, it remains the responsibility of both the driver and the freight company to ensure that certain protocols and measures are taken to prevent such illegal immigration.
The driver of any vehicle must have written instructions on how to use any system to prevent such entrants, with robust security measures that allow the vehicle and any loading space to be secured. Drivers should be given checklists for their vehicle’s security and should have any required training for how to use any security systems and devices, which can include padlocks and other seals. If someone is discovered or suspected to be hiding in your vehicle, you must contact the relevant police authorities or border control if already at a border crossing. The driver may be interviewed and while they can refuse it is in their interest, and that of the freight company, for them to give as much information as possible at this stage.
While in the UK, illegal immigration via freight is most common in road transport making its way to one of the many UK ports, in the US it is most prevalent in rail freight. Notorious train “La Bestia” or “the Beast” has funneled hundreds of thousands of Central Americans across the US border. Access to the train for immigrants is controlled by armed gangs and while security measures are in place, and there are propositions to increase surveillance and security barriers, in this instance such protocols don’t seem to have any deterrent effect. To combat such illegal immigration via freight in this instance will require more than just security systems and padlocks. This is more of an issue with government regulation and the border controls themselves.
The UK is lucky in that with its status as a series of islands, illegal immigration via freight is far more difficult than elsewhere in the world, such as the USA. There are important measures, however, that still must be taken, or else individuals and freight companies can find themselves at risk of serious fines. By investing in high quality security systems and driver security training, freight companies can protect themselves, their goods and their employees.