Clandestine entrants can be a huge issue for international operators. If just one clandestine entrant is found on a vehicle, both the operator and the driver can each be fined up to £2,000 (a total of £4,000 per clandestine) and from as soon as the 13th February 2023 this is increasing to £10,000. This is regardless of whether the operator/driver knew that they were on the vehicle. As the fine is per clandestine entrant, if more than one is found, the fines can quickly add up.
Backhouse Jones, a leading law firm in the logistics sector, looks at how operators can avoid the fine.
If an operator can show that they had an effective system in place for the prevention of clandestine entrants, and this system was properly operated on the occasion in question, then the operator may be able to avoid the penalty.
Border Force have a Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme (‘the Scheme’) for operators that are able to demonstrate that they have an effective system in place for preventing clandestine entrants. If a member of the Scheme is found with clandestine entrants on its vehicles, the member may avoid a fine, provided that it can be shown that they were operating in accordance with the effective systems they have adopted.
Backhouse Jones frequently deal with operators that have incurred penalties as a result of clandestine entrants being found on their vehicles. Even with the dip in international travel caused by the pandemic and the uncertainty of Brexit it is clear that clandestine entrants are still considered an issue. There has been no indication given that the Scheme will be removed.
Becoming accredited will not only assist operators in reducing the potential for clandestine entrants to be found on a vehicle but also increase the protection for drivers operating the vehicles cross borders. In the event that clandestine entrants are found on their vehicles whilst operating within the accredited scheme, the exposure to potential fines being imposed by Border Force is substantially reduced.
Backhouse Jones can help with review the operator’s current systems to prevent clandestine entrants, offer guidance on how to improve these systems to the standard expected by Border Force and help operators to complete the application form to become accredited.