The UK’s National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) is a police unit with a freight team that collates, analyses and disseminates road freight crime information across England and Wales. The unit has been recently tasked by the UK Government’s Home Office with delivering a problem profile on freight crime. TT Club is supporting NaVCIS Freight and its report with the aim of obtaining increased public funding to address the situation.
According to the ten-thousand-word report entitled ‘Profile of HGV, Freight & Cargo crime across England & Wales 2022’ (Freight Crime), it is estimated the value of losses across England and Wales in 2022 amounted to £66.6 million.
There were 4,995 heavy goods vehicles (HGV) and cargo crime notifications received last year (with data on reports still coming in) and NaVCIS Freight participated in 284 arrests, supporting a further 43 crime operations involving this type of crime.
The unit’s work has in part been responsible for the reduction in the indirect cost to the national economy from an estimated £700 million in 2019 to £428 million in 2021.
“This is still an alarmingly high level of loss despite the excellent work of the NaVCIS unit,” says Mike Yarwood, Managing Director, Loss Prevention at freight transport insurance specialist TT Club.
“Recognition by the UK Government of the need for action to combat such crime is welcomed and we are hopeful that the NaVCIS Freight Crime problem profile will instil some urgency into such action and elicit financial support. In the meantime, the unit relies entirely on funding from industry including the insurance community. TT urges entities that don’t yet support NaVCIS Freight to proffer their support as we do ourselves.”
Key conclusions outlined in the Freight Crime report are:
- Freight crime is committed by Organized Crime Groups (OCGs), prepared to travel hundreds of miles; highly skilled, determined and mobile criminals, aware of police tactics.
- This is a low risk and high reward crime, regrettably low on police priorities due to available resources.
- Supply sector under intense pressure from effects of crime, which causes disruption and delay, impacting the viability of companies, retention of staff, and investment in the UK.
- Lack of a central crime category or tag means crime largely hidden, lenient criminal justice outcomes following prosecutions and low priority for action by government.
- Lack of investment in infrastructure, particularly in improvement of parking security standards, to be sufficient to deter criminals.
- Direct public health risk may arise from stolen medicines and food stuffs.
“Our report contains wide-ranging recommendations in order to rectify, or at least reduce the effects of what we believe is a damaging situation at all levels – to individuals, consumers, retail and manufacturing sectors, logistics and transport companies, insurers and the national economy as a whole. We have put forward this advice to Government by way of this report,” DCI Brett Mallon, Head of unit at NaVCIS.
“Investment in, and legislation surrounding secure parking is not the least of these. There are law enforcement and policing reforms regarding freight crime that are also urgently required and, of course through the recognition of the seriousness of the issue, a significant increase in resources as well.”
A recent example of NaVCIS’ effectiveness in combatting these crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice is provided by Operation Luminary involving eighteen months work as a result of which three criminals were jailed for a range of offences related to the theft of lorries and trailers containing cargo to the value of over a million pounds.
The methods used were sophisticated and included the use of advanced technology such as scanners, key cloning equipment and tracker radios to trace vehicles and block communication signals. With NaVCIS’ help further successful prosecutions are anticipated surrounding serious freight offences across the country.
For its part TT Club will continue to support the work of NaVCIS Freight, participating in information sharing, investment and publicizing the excellent work of the unit.
“Policing authorities and central Government must be brought to understand the extent of both the direct and consequential losses sustained as a result of this less recognized trend in freight crime,” concludes Yarwood.
Photo credit: iStock/IvanSpasic