FINES of up to £2,000 are being issued to hauliers 10 times a day after migrants are found hiding in lorries, new figures show.

Home Office data shows 3,522 civil penalties were handed to lorry drivers or their employers in 2016/17 after “clandestine entrants” were discovered in vehicles. This was a 12 per cent rise on the tally of 3,151 in the previous 12 months, according to statistics supplied following a freedom of information request.

A total of £7.8 million worth of fines were issued in the most recent year. The findings suggest large numbers of migrants are still boarding UK-bound lorries despite the closure of the “jungle” camp at Calais in autumn last year.

The figures were obtained by law firm Nockolds, which claimed they raise doubts about the fairness of the penalty regime. A fine of up to £2,000 can be imposed on drivers or firms for each stowaway discovered where reasonable measures were not taken to secure and check vehicles. A driver or haulier served with a civil penalty notice can lodge an objection or appeal against it.

Transport lawyer Dan Hart, of Nockolds, said: “The majority of drivers take measures to secure their vehicles but it is increasingly difficult to do so when faced with the determination of large gangs of migrants. If there are even the smallest shortcomings, civil penalties are imposed.

“In the current climate, it raises the question of whether the penalty regime is fair given the exceptional circumstances.”

On Tuesday, a van driver was killed in the port town after his vehicle collided with lorries that were reportedly forced to stop due to migrants blocking a road with tree trunks. In a separate case, 18 people were found in the back of a lorry on the A22 in East Grinstead, West Sussex, on June 17.

The Road Haulage Association has called for the French military to be deployed on approach roads to Calais to protect UK-bound HGV drivers.

Source: RHA