Hauliers and drivers have to do the best they can in the face of an escalating crisis with migrants. And if they do that, they are unlikely to be fined if migrants are found on board, says the Road Haulage Association.

Commenting on news that fines have tripled in the past three years from 998 to 3,319 in 2014/2015, the Association strongly urged companies engaged in haulage between the UK and Europe to seek accreditation with the UK Border Force. For that, they have to show they are following the UKBF code of practice on preventing clandestines from entering the UK.

UKBF requires firms to take basic measures, such as training drivers, providing basic protection for vehicles and carrying out checks. Provided these steps are being taken, haulage firms and their drivers will not incur fines if clandestines are discovered.

The requirements are well-known to established cross-Channel hauliers. They are not greatly different from what many firms would want to do to secure their loads in any case. The RHA is in frequent contact with international haulage members and only very rarely receives complaints from members relating specifically to the UKBF code of practice.

“The broader issue of migrants is a complete nightmare for our members”, said RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett. “We again call on the French government to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure that migrants are separated from lorries in the Calais area; and we call on the UK government to support that more strongly in its dealings with the French government. For several weeks we have been calling on the French to deploy their military and the need for them to do so is now clear to everyone.

“It is impossible for drivers to prevent determined migrants getting into trucks and with 5,000 migrants in the Calais area our drivers are exposed, whether they are following the code of practice or not.

“We need urgent action to protect drivers, their vehicles and their loads when moving through the Calais are and we are simply not getting that. The authorities are failing in their duty of care towards our industry and the result is chaos in Calais, losses for transport companies that are simply trying to do their job, drivers increasingly refusing to do the work, the UK supply chain incurring massive costs that will drive up the price of food and goods in the shops, and massive disruption in Kent due to queuing lorries.