A significant number of people, who arrive in the UK through concealment in vehicles by tourist and freight transport routes, have had their entry illegally facilitated by organised criminal gangs.
For these reasons, the UK operates a scheme to tackle illegal migration called the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme. The Scheme means that when clandestine entrants are found in a vehicle, a penalty of up to £2,000 per entrant can be imposed on any responsible person connected to the vehicle in question, up to a maximum aggregate of £4,000 in total per clandestine entrant.
A responsible person is defined as the owner, hirer or driver of the vehicle. The Scheme applies to all vehicles, commercial and private, as well as anything that is designed to be towed or carried by a vehicle (such as trailers, caravans, containers etc). In circumstances where the driver is employed by the vehicle owner or hirer, such as an HGV, the employer is also liable for the driver’s penalty. The penalty level has not been changed for nearly twenty years.
The government committed to review and overhaul the Scheme as part of its New Plan for Immigration. A public consultation on the New Plan for Immigration was held from 24 March to 6 May 2021. The government then introduced changes to the Scheme through the new Nationality and Borders Act 2022.
In respect of the existing offence of carrying a clandestine entrant, government are asking what you think the regulations should say about the steps to be taken to secure a vehicle from access by a clandestine migrant and in respect of the existing offence, are considering the circumstances in which such a penalty should be imposed.
In respect of the existing offence, they are considering increasing the maximum penalty from £2,000 per entrant and the aggregate penalty from £4,000 per entrant. The change is being considered to ensure that the level of penalty provides enough of an incentive to comply with the requirements of the scheme.
The new offence of failing to adequately secure a goods vehicle, your views on what the maximum and aggregate penalty should be and whether there should be higher levels of penalties where there are aggravating circumstances and lower levels where there are mitigating circumstances, and what these circumstances should be.
The consultation is also being used as an exercise to ask about the Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme for Hauliers.