Road Haulage Association highlights lax vehicle checks at UK ports

The Road Haulage Association has highlighted lax vehicle checks at some UK ports, which are making them attractive to people-smuggling gangs, after 39 migrants were found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The checking procedures at Calais and Coquelles are pretty robust. Traffickers are targeting ports without the same levels of security.”

Tom Dowdall, deputy director of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said in October last year that improved security in France meant the smugglers were targeting easier routes through ports like Zeebrugge.

The NCA also warned that there had been a sharp rise in the number of migrants using “higher risk methods of clandestine entry” to the UK such as refrigerated HGVs and containers as well as small boats.

Burnett said that the conditions inside the refrigerated trailer as would have been “absolutely horrendous” and would kill anyone inside “pretty quickly”.

“Refrigerated trailers are built to be airtight,” said Burnett. ”If chilled, the trailer temperature will be set to minus 5C, if it’s frozen, you’re talking about minus 25C. There’s little or no chance of survival if you’re in those conditions for any length of time.”