Statistics that were released towards the end of last year showed that between April and July 2014 there were 11,920 attempts to enter the UK clandestinely. Almost 3,000 attempts are made every month to enter the UK and these figures don’t take account of those who successfully make it through without being detected. The statistics come from a freedom of information request that was sent by the Telegraph newspaper and which also indicated that if the attempts to enter the UK continued at the same rate then they would have reached 35,000 by the end of the year. The numbers are even more shocking when you consider that they have actually quadrupled in just three years.
If you’re not entirely sure what a ‘clandestine entrant’ is then you’re not the only one. When the figures were discussed by John Vine, who is the independent immigration watchdog, at the end of last year he referred to those trying to enter the UK illegally as ‘irregular migrants.’ This then gave rise to a debate over what the correct term should be for those trying to enter the UK in this way. Eventually, the Home Office weighed in and insisted that it preferred the term ‘clandestine entrants’ as using terms such as ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘irregular migrants’ indicated that those who were trying to get into the country had done something wrong. The point was made that there are actually a number of credible reasons as to why someone would want to make their way into the UK outside of normal channels.
However, while the terminology might have been up for debate, what has not changed, is the fact that there can be significant penalties for those who assist clandestine entrants, even unwittingly – for example, hauliers who might have people inside their vehicles. The costs of this can be serious with civil penalties of up to £2,000 for every clandestine entrant found in the vehicle. It has been made the responsibility of commercial vehicle operators to put safeguards and controls in place to ensure that they are not providing transport for those trying to enter the country without going via the authorities. It is particularly worth bearing in mind that, in addition to the civil penalties, a commercial vehicle operator may also have vehicles impounded as a result of transporting clandestine entrants, something which could cause a significant issue for any business in which the vehicles are so essential to trade.
Given that all the statistics indicate that the problem of clandestine entrants is only likely to increase in the next three years – and could quadruple again as figures did between 2011 and 2014 (or rise at an even faster rate) – it’s important that businesses seek prompt advice when facing an expensive fine that might be open to challenge. It is possible to fight a fine that has been imposed by the UK Border Force and to challenge the amount that has been imposed but this does require informed, professional help and – above all – speed.
If you need advice on clandestine entrants then Stephensons has a very experience team who would will be happy to help call us on 0333 344 4772.