Freight Transport Association (FTA) representatives and members were invited to Calais today by Immigration Minister James Brokenshire MP on a visit to explore progress and ongoing challenges with migrants trying to board trucks to the UK.
Mr Brokenshire was joined by FTA Deputy Chief Executive James Hookham, Head of Policy for the South East Natalie Chapman and operators whose vehicles regularly use the cross-Channel route.
He listened to concerns from Chris Palmer of Transam Trucking and David Aichen of Solstor and updated FTA on Government action including security improvements at the port.
FTA has been in regular contact with Mr Brokenshire since last summer when problems with growing numbers of migrants at the Jungle Camp escalated during industrial action.
Mr Hookham, who has also given evidence to a Government committee about the impact of problems at Calais on FTA members, said: “We heard some very positive messages from Mr Brokenshire about steps to improve security and we saw for ourselves some of the new measures that have been put in place.
“However, as security improves so the migrants’ attempts to get to the UK become more desperate and we must remain vigilant. Mr Brokenshire heard first-hand from our members about the pressures that their drivers face and the impact on their operations.
“Organised people trafficking should now be a key focus for both the French and UK governments and more secure parking facilities are needed inland to prevent migrants boarding trucks before they reach the port.”
FTA told Mr Brokenshire that its members had reported attempts to board trucks at other ports, emphasising the need for safe parking areas and effective security.
The Association encourages its members to sign up to the Border Force accreditation scheme that advises operators and their drivers how to secure their vehicles against unwanted intrusion and to avoid being fined. FTA told Mr Brokenshire that voluntary checks undertaken by drivers should be verified so proof can be provided later if stowaways are discovered.