18/12/2019

Offences Detected As Lorries Searched At NI Ports

A vehicle has been seized and 28 offences detected during a large scale search operation targeting lorries passing through the ports of Belfast and Larne.

The PSNI insisted that the multi-agency operation on Tuesday 17 December was not linked to the discovery of 39 bodies in a refrigerated lorry in Essex in October, however is aimed at those hauliers involved in organised crime such as smuggling.

One vehicle was seized by HMRC for suspected use of illegal fuel, while seven HGVs were stopped at Belfast port. As a result, 28 offences were detected and two fixed penalty notices issued, as well as two immediate prohibitions and one defect notice issued.

Officers from the Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit, Roads Policing, Dogs Unit and Neighbourhood Policing Team were involved as well as Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, Border Force, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Harbour Police.

A total of 46 vehicles were stop checked, 20 of which were searched.
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Detective Inspector Richard Thornton, from the Organised Crime Unit, said: "This is the first activity of its kind in Northern Ireland focusing on hauliers who are involved in criminality.

"It is important to note that the vast majority of hauliers and HGV drivers are law abiding, and indeed the haulage industry is a vital part of our economy. However, a small number of hauliers are involved in organised criminality such as the smuggling of drugs, illegal cigarettes, human trafficking and other offences.

"This operation is not linked to the tragic events in Essex, but is in response to information from genuine hauliers, who often work under difficult economic circumstances and operate under small profit margins, who have told police they are aware of criminal activities taking place within the industry.

"Those involved use the guise of legitimate work as cover for their criminal activities and in so doing undercut the price for transporting goods and affect the livelihoods of legitimate hauliers."

Local hauliers with concerns of criminality within the industry are urged to phone 101 or dial the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.



(JG/CM)

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