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  • Mark Salisbury

Increased security risk as unaccompanied trailers top one million

Updated: May 11, 2023

According to a report from the Department for Transport on Feb 18th, 2021, recent trends in road freight have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. In 2020, Road goods vehicles made 3.2 million trips travelling from Great Britain to Europe, a 6% decrease compared to the previous year.

However, of this 3.2 million, the report highlights a significant increase in unaccompanied trailer traffic to over 1 million – 42% to the Netherlands and 28% to Ireland – and as such, the risk of theft and attempts to stow away in unsecure trailers is increased.

Helping operators to combat this problem, TrailerLock have introduced a new universal key for their Fridge trailer and sea container door lock, which means that any driver can access any trailer using a common key. All operators need to do is secrete the key under the trailer (and advise their forwarding counterpart as such) or mail a key in advance – or to be doubly sure, do both.

Manufactured from solid steel, simple to operate and resistant to bolt-croppers and crowbars, FridgeLock is extendable and fits most types of surface-mounted door furniture – particularly for temperature-controlled trailers and containers.

A barrel lock, protected by a coated steel cap, needs just a half turn to open the two sections of the device, which is then adjusted for length and clamped over each of the vertical door rods.

In addition to protecting the vehicle load itself, FridgeLock protects drivers and continental operators by reducing the possibility of Border Force penalties, which can run into many tens of thousands of pounds.

The lock is also ideal for domestic traffic, especially when vehicles are parked up overnight.

Currently, ‘civil penalties for clandestine entrants’ amount to £4,000 per illegal entrant – £2,000 to be paid by the driver and £2,000 to be paid by the haulier. If these penalties are not paid, the vehicle can be seized and held until payment is made. If the penalty is not paid at all, the vehicle can be destroyed.

Simon Clarke of Smith Bowyer Clarke, specialist road transport lawyers, further explains: “We have around 10 new instructions per week where hauliers are seeking to appeal against the imposition of penalties for clandestine entrants running into the tens of thousands of pounds. In some cases, having to pay these penalties would mean the company going out of business. We are well used to dealing with penalties in the range of £20,000 to £40,000; we have just closed one case where a haulier had imposed against him a £68,000 penalty, reduced by us on appeal to £20,000.”

According to continental operator Tarrant International, FridgeLock has proved to be effective and simple to use in their temperature-controlled vehicle fleet. “Quick, strong and uncomplicated,” says Director Fergal Tarrant. “We also use other locks but this one does the job.”

Regarding the potential perils of trailer break-ins, Simon Clarke adds, “Drivers may be vigilant in checking their vehicles; however, thousands of illegal immigrants hide inside trucks heading for the UK each year. Despite Border Force accepting that a driver and haulier have no idea that the illegal immigrants were inside the truck, penalties will be imposed. One of the best ways to prevent this is by securing the doors of a trailer with a robust lock that cannot be disarmed.”

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