TISPOL attends seminar on van safety and security

Published Fri, 20/11/2015 - 14:23

A safety and security seminar for operators of light commercial vans took place recently in Birmingham. The seminar was chaired by Superintendent Paul Keasey, Head of the Central Motorway Police Group, Head of the UK National Road Police Intelligence Forum and member of the TISPOL European Road Policing Group.

The seminar audience was made up of police and heads of commercial van fleet companies across the country. The aim of the seminar was to discuss how to enhance road safety and security in this branch of the road transport logistics field and come up with a meaningful outcome from the day.

Road Security

Theft of goods was a major issue and the emerging issue of stealing for the back of vehicles whilst on the move was explained and a case study from the midlands area was focused upon where thieves pulled up behind a good van and then exited the sunroof of their vehicle whilst moving to climb down on the bonnet and open the rear doors of the van and take out goods on the move unbeknown to the driver. In this case the thieves were appended by police and it transpired that the thieves were professional organised team brought in that day from Romania and using a specially adapted SUV type vehicle with an enlarged sun roof area. The thieves are currently serving custodial sentences in the UK.

The theft of vans was a key issue and the various methods such as stealing keys or using devices to overcome keyless entry systems were discussed. It also appeared that some drivers were laxed and left keys in the ignition and engines running when the vans were stolen.

The theft of catalytic converters from vans is high due to the precious metal content in the devices.

The objectives of the seminar was to open our minds to the new methods employed by organised criminal gangs in stealing vehicles, goods and clandestine transportation of illegal immigrants and to identify good practice to tackle this and them to share the information with other operators (who may also be commercial competitors) and the police.

The chair mentioned that simple but effective standards can reduce the instances of crime and asked the audience if not only their stands but those of sub-contractors were robust enough to prevent crime.

The following Questions were put to the audience

1. What do you believe are the main security issues facing your business?

2. What is your approach to tackling security issues, e.g. proactive or reactive risk management?

3. How do you share intelligence / knowledge / enforcement with colleagues and police?

These matters were keenly debated and it appeared there was a wealth of information that could be shared and whilst some measures are in place, new and more innovative ideas were put forward for future work, despite the commercial appetite of cost over effect and the competitor confidentiality of co-operating with rival companies.

Road Safety

A presentation was made by Highways England who have responsibility of the strategic road network in England including motorways. It explained that there was work going on to implementation of a system of 'smart' motorways with hard shoulder (emergency lane) running, information updating, and for a reduction of breakdowns and collisions.

A recent project of checking tyre pressure on Heavy good vehicles (HGVs) had found that 1 in 12 HGVs had significantly under inflated tyres, which could explain the amount of HGV tyre failure and resulting dangerous tyre debris left in live motorway lanes. 

There was discussion about making van drivers and operators more accountable by introducing legislation similar to HGV operation such a driving hours and checking of vehicles. Currently anyone can buy a van and operate in transport without any checks or balances.

The chair explained that when a serious incident occurs such as a fatal collision and police investigate transport companies, they look for safety and security systems used by operators and if these are not there then cases of corporate manslaughter may be considered.

Two more questions were asked;

1. How do use data to assess risks and solutions?

2. What are the critical success factors to maximise safety within your business or van industry?

Fruitful discussion revealed that some good practice was taking place and there was a need to share this more openly in the industry.

Finally there was a very interesting and thought provoking presentation from Tyresafe which is one of the UK's leading tyre safety organisations, dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers associated with defective or illegal tyres. The presentation focused on the current campaign to encourage motorists to think more about their tyres, and this  video was shown.