Effective Clandestine Preventative Systems – There’s an Aquarius App for that

Operators and drivers face substantial fines under the government’s clandestine entrant civil scheme; a scheme that also requires operators to have effective preventative clandestine systems in place.  But what does this mean and what is an ‘effective’ preventative system?

Since the 13th of February 2023, fines for carrying clandestine entrants into the UK have risen significantly.  Under the scheme if a vehicle is found to be carrying clandestine entrants, both the driver AND operator could each be fined up to £10,000 per entrant (i.e. £20,000 per entrant).  Equally, and as important if the vehicle is not carrying clandestine entrants but has not been adequately secured, there is the potential for the driver AND operator to be fined a maximum penalty of £6000 each (i.e. a total of £12,000).

We understand that this isn’t just a threat, we’ve seen in the press over the last 12 months many drivers and operators fined thousands and thousands of pounds – we’ve also seen firsthand how serious the problem is, when customers facing fines have reached out to us for advice and support.

“Ignorance is no defence” in a court of law – so what can drivers and operators do to protect themselves and minimise the risk of a penalty?

The clandestine entrant civil scheme requires operators to have effective preventative systems in place. Central to these systems, are the driver being responsible for securing the vehicle and checking for signs of unauthorised access – importantly here this checking process must be done at the point of departure AND after each stop enroute back to base.

This record-keeping and being able to show an audit trail to Border Force, along with evidencing driver training, are imperative.

This is where Aquarius can help

Border Force has recently released an updated downloadable checklist, which provides a great starting template for drivers to work from when recording checks. For coaches, for example it includes checking overhead luggage racks and under the seats.

For 2024, we have digitised the Border Force’s check list and created a dedicated new Clandestine Check on the Aquarius App.

The Clandestine Check has been specifically designed to assist drivers in effectively checking the security of their vehicle and trailer whilst travelling/transporting goods across borders; alongside the pre-programmed Border Force checklist, operators also have the option to fully customise the clandestine check list to suit the individual needs of their operation, and by vehicle / trailer type.

This Clandestine Check not only provides a less-administrative and a simpler way for drivers to record vehicle checks on their phone at each stopping point, while they are on enroute back to base; the driver can also log photographic evidence against each check, with a date/ time stamp and GPS location being recorded by the system. Once completed the details of the checks can be transmitted back to base where the data can be logged and investigated if needed. 

An added safety feature is a SOS Button, which if the driver is in trouble will immediately connect them to the nearest business emergency contact – and the message will also be immediately relayed back to head office who can visually track the driver’s journey in real time.

Think of it like a Driver Defect Check on your Aquarius App – it uses the same principle, with the functionality providing a digital way to record vehicle security and create an audit trail if evidence of clandestine activity or vehicle security was questioned by Border Force. 

This record of evidence, as previously mentioned is vital.  When Border Force are considering the level of penalty to be imposed, consideration will be given to the records a driver is able to produce of their checks – other considerations include if this is an operator’s first incident, the financial circumstances of the driver and company, and whether the operator is a member of the Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme.

The Border Force Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme

To apply to be a member, which is free, an operator must demonstrate they have a system in place that enables drivers to record the vehicle security checks they complete – they also ask how many documents are provided to drivers and how long the completed records are stored.

The Aquarius App’s Clandestine Check provides an ‘effective monitoring system’ that could assist an operator in gaining accreditation.  As a digital function too, the question of how many documents have been provided and how long they are stored is an easy one to answer, as its all electronically logged and stored.

Another question on the application, is ‘how do you keep drivers up to date with any changes made to the instructions?’. On the same Aquarius App, sitting alongside the Clandestine Check is a function called Document Manager, which provides a two-way electronic communication between the operator and the driver for such items as policy updates and training materials, which enable driver signatures and declarations to be captured and date stamped digitally.

In summary, after seeing waves of clandestine-related fines being issued over the last 12 months, drivers and operators must start putting robust preventative systems in place, if only for self-financial reasons.  This is because, if you can show you have an ‘effective’ preventative system in place, in the event that a clandestine entrant is found on a vehicle, drivers, and operators who are also members of the Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme, may just be able to reduce or avoid these huge fines.

For further details on the Aquarius App and its Clandestine Check functionality, please contact the team on 0330 333 8789 or email sales@aquariusit.com

Latest posts

Newsletter signup

Signup our newsletter to get product updates, news or insights.