The crime consequence of Covid?
Written by Rod McKenzie, RHA managing director of policy and public affairs, for April’s edition of Roadway Magazine.
Road freight crime is nothing new. At the RHA we have long campaigned for more safe, secure, lorry parking. It’s unacceptable that drivers should have to park up in dingy, ill-lit areas with no fencing, inadequate security lighting and certainly no CCTV cameras to deter criminals.
Remember, these are no mere opportunist thieves. Many operate in organised criminal gangs, sometimes linked to larger networks with an eye on the valuable and resaleable contents of an HGV.
But in the last year this criminality has taken on two developing forms. Firstly, vans are increasingly being targeted. Secondly, road freight crime has risen alarmingly since the Covid crisis.
Two recent examples are illustrative: the theft of 330,000 rounds of ammunition from the West Midlands, later recovered in Yorkshire; as well as the theft of lateral flow tests destined for use in schools – very much a Covid crime.
The RHA now offers van membership, so it’s vital we consider what steps to take to protect both lorries and vans.
So, aside from a diligent duty of care for drivers and others to make their loads as secure as possible in every sense, what to do?
Clearly safe and secure parking would help – especially overnight or for meal or statutory breaks.
So too, we think, would be a reclassification of these crimes. Offences where violence is used are classified as “robbery” and are obviously treated more seriously by the police. But when no violence has been used they are classified as “theft from motor vehicle”, usually involving vans.
That means less police investigation and less serious punishment for offenders than robbery.
There’s also a worry that NaVCIS (National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service) which relies in part for sponsorship for funding has lost a key sponsor.
Clearly if RHA members would like to help by sponsoring NaVCIS please do get in touch with them or us.
Finally, should there now be a separate classification of Road Freight Cargo Crime? This would have a criminal investigation and punishment status similar to robbery.
Royal Mail, after all, has a parcel theft designation for parcels, so this would have similar status and protect, through deterrence, many van operators and drivers.
The sheer scale of organised crime in load theft such as the £5 million of Apple products stolen last autumn means the authorities can no longer afford to ignore the growing scale of this threat to our members livelihoods – and potentially their own lives.
We’d love to hear your thoughts: [email protected]
The full April edition of Roadway Magazine will be available on 26 March.