Monday, June 28, 2010

Road Haulage Association Causes Home Office Brochure Ban

Literature Highlighted Double Standards for Truck Drivers
Shipping News Feature

UK - A booklet advising international operators, supposedly produced in collaboration with the UK Border Agency, has been withdrawn following questions on its content from the Road Haulage Association’s magazine Roadway. ‘Lorry Crime Prevention’ was produced as part of an Amber alert by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the UK Border Agency in response to a recent investigation into illegal immigration. The guidance for operators and drivers was, however, pulled after the RHA asked the Home Office how it could accept that operators and drivers were victims of crime from illegal immigrants and yet penalise them if they were so victimised.

RHA Chief Executive Geoff Dunning commented:

“This highlights the inconsistencies within our legal system; under our criminal system you are innocent until proven guilty. With civil offences you must prove your innocence. Hauliers and drivers who have followed every step to the letter have still been fined. The fine is likely to be reduced but effectively you are still punished for becoming a victim of crime.

“Drivers who notify the authorities and are found to have illegal stowaways in their trucks immediately lay themselves open to investigation; this is hardly an incentive particularly if they are already in the UK. The haulage industry is not responsible for policing the borders of this country, it should not be held accountable for the international failures which have made illegal immigration a problem.

“We are concerned that the Home Office press office knew nothing of this booklet until they were told by Roadway. Within a couple of hours it had been withdrawn and banned. They will not say when this happened, but the only reasonable conclusion is that they realised it is indefensible to hold people accountable whom even government literature describe as struggling to protect themselves against becoming victims of crime.” he concluded.

The Home Office issued a statement to Roadway saying: 'The UK Border Agency is committed to working with the haulage industry to facilitate legitimate trade while protecting the border. We need the help of drivers and owners to ensure that loads are not abused by gangs seeking to smuggle people or prohibited goods into the UK.'