The Road Haulage Association is extremely concerned that despite the deployment of 1,300 French riot police and gendarmerie at Calais, the reality is that with approximately 300 operating at any one time, they are now massively outnumbered by 18:1. And as the number of economic migrants, political refugees and asylum seekers congregating at the Port increases, the minimal effectiveness of the available security force is decreasing correspondingly.
“Even if the entire security contingent was to be deployed at any one time, the ratio would still be hard pressed to cope at 5:1,” said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.
“The level of security currently in place barely scratches the surface of the problem. It’s therefore hardly surprising that recent days have seen incidents of violence and attacks on trucks far worse than have been seen in recent months. And with Christmas produce still travelling across the Channel, the next few days will inevitably see a concerted push by migrants to reach the UK.
“This situation is now deteriorating by the day and we have received reports from members telling us that their drivers are being subjected to the most horrifying acts of violence and intimidation. These include physical attacks and threats from migrants wielding knives, hammers and baseball bats.
“If the tables were turned and drivers were faced with the same level of threat on this side of the Channel, I am convinced that our security forces would be deployed in sufficient numbers to quickly contain and control the situation. Therefore why is it that the French government, with its far greater level of security resource, is unable to restore law and order at Calais?
“We welcome the measures being taken to process migrants but it’s not happening fast enough. Current estimates are that despite 50 migrants being processed for resettlement on a weekly basis, these are replaced with another 150 each week.
“90 per cent of goods moving from mainland Europe to the UK are carried on the back of a truck and we are appalled that despite our pleas for action, nothing is being done to ensure that these trucks and, more importantly the drivers themselves, can complete their journey safely and securely.”
“We need a firm commitment from government that it will push its EU counterparts to take action. We also need to know when an increase in security will be implemented.
“This is not what our drivers signed up for,” concluded Mr Burnett. “We are fully aware that the UK government is working with its EU counterparts to address the situation ‘at source’ but that will come as little comfort to the 5,000 HGV drivers that travel to the UK through Calais each day in fear for their lives.”