What to do when migrants are trying to break into your trailer?

It is a common issue for international drivers entering the UK, to encounter illegal immigrants trying to break into lorries. The most reported cases are near the port of Calais where despite the demolition of the “Calais Jungle” by the local authorities in October 2016, the large number of migrants still exists. On the 29th September 2020, Gérald Darmanin the French interior minister confirmed on Twitter that “more than 600” migrants situated near Calais hospital, were transported to the welcome centres, in the biggest clearance operation since 2016.

It’s important to note that Calais in France is not the only breaking port for the migrants, as the reports also point out other European countries like Italy, Greece and Spain. The international lorry drivers should always be aware that migrants can gain access to the trailer while queuing on motorways, at the service stations, lorry parks, industrial parks or isolated roads.

So what should you do when you notice migrants trying to break into your lorry? 

1. Lock yourself safely in the cabin, pull all the windows up. If you feel you may be in danger, you can start your engine, switch on the lights, sound your horn to attract attention and drive off slowly to a safe location. Migrants don’t want to be seen and it might just deter them.

2. Do not challenge or try to chase off the migrants. Remember the migrants are desperate people, often carrying weapons like knives, baseball bats, crowbars or even guns. 

3. Call the police, in France like in all of Europe the number is 112. You do not have to speak French as the assistance is given in over 40 languages. 

4. Wait for the police arrival, try not to make any contact with the migrants. 

5. Only leave your cabin when safe to do so or you are in imminent danger. If forced to leave the cabin, identify and proceed to the nearest safe place and call the police.

6. If you notice any signs of entry like broken seals, broken tilt cord etc. and suspect that someone has entered or tampered with your vehicle call the police or speak to border control at the port where you plan to board. If you suspect there is someone hiding in the vehicle do not try to cross the border, inform the border control before crossing as otherwise you may face penalties. 

7. Contact your dispatcher and inform them about the issue and await further instructions. 

In most cases when migrants gain access to your trailer, the load is contaminated and deemed unsafe for the UK consumer. Find out more about the risk by checking our guide: Migrants Breaking into Lorries: What is the risk to your product?

If Border Force officers find clandestine entrants in your vehicle, the driver or the company may be interviewed about their security systems used to stop people gaining unauthorised access to the vehicle. If the security system is found to be poor then a fine may be imposed and form IS11 issued.

Clandestine entrants term is used by the Border Force to describe illegal migrants:

“A clandestine entrant is a person who hides in or on a vehicle as it enters the UK, with the aim of avoiding or attempting to avoid immigration controls”

Border Force

In order to prevent migrants gaining unauthorised access, you should take proactive steps to secure and check you vehicles. See how to secure your vehicle in the video from the Border Force:

The Border Force also provides you with the checklist to help you secure your vehicle and stop illegal immigration. You can download the checklist here in multiple languages, including Polish and German. 

It is important to remember that you may be fined up to £2,000 for each clandestine entrant found in your vehicle. The driver, employer and the owner of the vehicle, each may be liable to a penalty and the vehicle may also be detained. You have a right to object and/or appeal from the fine within 28 days of the date on which form IS11 was issued. You will receive guidance on objections and appeals with the form IS11 or you can download it here

In order to avoid fines in the event when clandestine entrants are found in your vehicle, road haulage companies are urged to join the civil penalty accreditation scheme run by Border Force. If you are accepted and able to show that you have effective systems put in place, to prevent people entering the UK illegally by hiding in your vehicles, you will not be fined. You can download an application form for the civil penalty scheme here.

All responsible hauliers, distributors and food producers should take proactive steps to protect their consumers from danger of foreign contamination. Lore International specialise in recovering goods affected by clandestine entrants. On average we are able to save 90% of your load saving your time and money. We specialise in food products safety but we are almost able to check and recover everything. For more info check our services or contact us. 

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