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Lorry drivers need more support to deal with 'huge issue' and dangers involved, warns haulage chief

By Neil Lancefield

Migrant smuggling gangs are a "massive issue" for lorry drivers, the boss of a haulage trade association has warned.

Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, said drivers are targeted by the groups "week in, week out".

He said: "It's posed a massive issue to hauliers for years.

"Drivers are facing challenges from smugglers and from gangs continuously. They have to be very careful about where they park up, they have to be very careful about checking seals on their trailers to make sure nobody has broken in.

"There's a set of rules laid out by the Home Office to ensure that hauliers and drivers are checking to make sure they haven't got any migrants on board. This has been a long term issue."

Mr Burnett said several drivers have been attacked in recent weeks and one was "woken in the early hours of the morning by gun shots".

Migrant gangs are "very sophisticated" in how they go about accessing trailers, he explained.

"They'll cut holes through roofs, they'll pull doors back, they'll unbolt the doors and then re-bolt the doors."

Meanwhile, the Government is facing mounting calls from campaigners to provide safer, legal routes to the UK in a bid to save lives by deterring migrants from making dangerous journeys.

Some charities have also organised a vigil in memory of the 39 people discovered in a container in Essex, which will take place outside the Home Office in London tonight.

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