Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Report on Rail and Road Freight Security is Essential Reading for Haulage Industry

Does the Future of UK Transport Legislation Lie at Home or with the EU?
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Select Committee report on land transport security published this week is interesting for several reasons, not least because it pulls no punches regarding the committee’s opinion of EU legislation. Whilst comprehensively reviewing possible problem areas such as those associated with the latest multi and intermodal freight terminal developments and reviewing well published difficulties within the road haulage sector such as the lack of truck stops, it makes clear that [it] the Government feels sovereign policy is far preferable to European wide determination, which it terms ‘action at EU-level might result in the levelling down of existing security measures in the UK’.

The report (viewable HERE in html and HERE in .pdf format) reinforces this attitude by going on to say that the Government must ensure it is fully involved in the EU’s deliberations on the matter to initiate policies which are appropriate to British interests and requirements. The report’s brief of course is a wide one, covering as it does subjects ranging from acts of terrorism against passengers to minor freight related thefts and, most pertinent to the UK’s road haulage operators, reports on the need for safe parking areas and comments on the demise of TruckPol, the unit dedicated to fighting transport crime.

Input from industry interests such as the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA) is freely acknowledged and this appears to be one committee which has listened to common sense and is trying to point the Government in the right direction. Although it stops short of confessing that it was a major error to withdraw the TruckPol grant, and despite the RHA’s acceptance that the system was far from perfect, the report concludes that whilst the Minister believed policing of this type was the responsibility of the local force the committee notes:

We recommend that Government acknowledge the importance of the work done by TruckPol and work with industry to ensure that the successor system is fit for purpose.”

Jack Semple, RHA Director of Policy, who had much input into the report welcomed it saying that it was in tune with the evidence which the logistics professionals had put before the committee saying:

“The report is well-balanced, we especially welcome two recommendations: that government works with the road haulage and distribution industry to overcome barriers to the provision of truckstops; and that it acknowledges the importance of the work done by TruckPol and works with industry to ensure that the successor system is fit for purpose. The RHA is actively working on how the TruckPol issue – that is, the recording and analysis of haulage crime, police response and the dissemination of information and best practice among police forces – can be best taken forward. We have also had a very positive response from the Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales on this issue.”

Truck stops are of course another sensitive issue and the crimes committed because of the lack of suitable parking for commercial vehicles something we have unfortunately had to cover in the past and here once again the question of EU wide versus national policy comes up, as it does throughout the report, with doubts actively expressed as to whether there is any benefit, particularly for the UK, in a continent wide legislative approach. Whilst the Minister expressed confidence in the current system of security checks on containers, trains and trucks in the UK none of the parties involved had the same feelings for the arrangements in some other parts of Europe.

To properly understand the range of transport security modes and problems, both current and potential, covered in the report it is advisable for interested and involved stakeholders to download it in full using one of the links above enabling proper study of a subject which has some validity to every part of the supply chain.

Photo: This truck was burnt out after being stolen and the contents removed by thieves.