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Significant changes to Border Force Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme

It is important that Members are aware of important changes to the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme, which governs penalties levied against drivers and companies when clandestins are found in vehicles entering the UK.

As part of the controversial package of reforms in the Nationality and Borders Act 2022, the UK government plans to toughen up penalties in the Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme, with one type of fine set to increase by up to 500%.

The penalty for carrying “clandestine entrants” would increase from £2,000 to potentially £10,000 per entrant under the revised scheme, although the home secretary “will consider requests from responsible persons to apply means testing to reduce any remaining level of penalty.”

Aggregate fines may be higher:

“The maximum aggregate penalty per clandestine entrant will be increased from £4,000 to £12,000 for a first incident, and £20,000 for a second or subsequent incident in the past five years.”

The draft guidelines state that if two people were discovered in a commercial vehicle, the driver and the operator may be jointly liable for a penalty of £20,000.

It is essential to note that owners, hirers, or drivers would also be fined if they fail to secure a vehicle to prevent clandestine entry in accordance with government regulations, even if no clandestine entrants are on board, to the tune of £1,500 per responsible person for a first incident. This is an important development making the failure to secure a vehicle an offence punishable with a fine.

Regulation 19 of the Carriers Liability (Amendment) Regulation 2023 – 29 is the “SCHEDULE”, that lists the standard checks that will be expected to be done by the driver and a record of these checks needs to be made. The most controversial item is in all probability Item 11, whereby, whilst it is acknowledged that a driver cannot check the integrity of the roof from the outside, it will be a requirement for the driver to check from the inside, e.g. open the doors.

This is not always possible/feasible, particularly if the load has been sealed for customs reasons, or the trader uses a “smart seal” on the trailer and only the destination has the relevant code to unlock the trailer/vehicle. or unless customs officer require an inspection, when the consignee will have to provide it.

There are other issues to consider such as trying to do this in bad weather and/or the dark, or if the trailer has been loaded in such a way as makes seeing the roof difficult.

The level of penalties are set considerably higher than previously imposed, but there are ways of reducing them such as signing up to the Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme and also the size of a company will be taken into account.


Secure Check Record  :-https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1129167/6.8237_BF_Clandestine_Entrant_Guidance_v4_Final_Print.pdf

Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme effective 13th February Clandestine Entrant Civil Penalty Scheme - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Information on Civil penalty accreditation scheme for hauliers   
Civil penalty accreditation scheme for hauliers - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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