With an increasing number of attempts by illegal immigrants to make their way into the UK, the security at border crossings is tightening significantly. For the shipping industry this could mean some important changes.
Immigrants are smuggling themselves into the UK via both ships and other freight transport, namely lorries. Only several days ago, a group of fourteen people were arrested after running from the back of a lorry at Cobham services in Surrey. Security breaches have been occurring day and night for month in key transport links such as Calais where immigrants have even resorted to scaling fences, some more successful than others.
This is not a new story. In September 2014, there were an estimated 1,300 immigrants in temporary camps in Calais awaiting deportation. An undercover journalist has recently filmed a group of immigrants being smuggled into and then out of the UK. Whilst filming he was told by a UK people-smuggler that for £300 he could be smuggled out of the country any day of the week, with the return trip to the UK costing £1,200. The truck on which he was ‘smuggled’ contained a total of fourteen people and made it unchecked past Kent Police officers as well as both British and French border controls.
With a discovered asylum loophole, being smuggled out of the UK allows immigrants to remain in Europe and even avoid deportation from the UK. For example, if they began the asylum process in Italy, then when discovered they would be taken there for their case to be heard rather than their home country. As a result, the problem is getting worse.
So what does this mean for shipping? Mainly it means much tighter security. Shippers need to be aware that both Eurotunnel and Dover are potentially introducing exit-checks for all people leaving the UK via these terminals. As a result, delays could vastly increase. The technology is unlikely to be in place in the immediate future, but it’s a big possibility.
The problem is certainly not helped by the fact that immigrants are able to easily make it across the EU without facing a single border check. Once at Calais it becomes a simple choice of choosing a suitable vehicle or vessel to smuggle themselves into. The shipping industry could face some heavy costs, both financially and in time if many EU governments do not address this issue more seriously.