The threat posed by illegal immigrants attempting to board vehicles at Calais has heightened after coaches were attacked last week.
David Randle, a coach driver for Hampshire-based Phoenix Bussing, contacted CBW to share first-hand his ‘frightening experience’ of illegal immigrants attempting to break into his vehicle, as well as witnessing his colleague being threatened with an iron bar.
David, who has been a coach driver since 1991, said he has passed through Calais “more times than I care to remember.”
He took up the story: “On October 22 my colleague John Boyes and I were heading home empty from Milan after finishing a promo tour of Europe.
“We had taken our 11 hours daily rest in Belgium and at 0100hrs continued our journey to Calais to catch the 0645hrs ferry sailing to Dover.
“5km from the port inside the recently erected double security fence, the traffic had come to a standstill. LGVs were occupying both lanes, instead of keeping to the right, which meant passenger vehicles were caught up with freight.
“I encountered a group of immigrants who descended on my Setra double-decker coach, trying to force the doors open and trying lockers.
“One member of the group stood on the central reservation barrier and began kicking the driver’s window. I was sitting around a foot away from this. There were no CRS or police anywhere to be seen.
“In front of me I witnessed gangs of immigrants climbing into trucks forcing the back doors open and pulling curtains open on tautliners. My colleague John had a group of immigrants trying to gain access to his vehicle. They also tried pulling his spare wheel locker off. John left his vehicle and approached one of them – the immigrant produced an iron bar and held it up to him so he hastily retreated to his vehicle. This continued for around 40 minutes and eventually we began to move. We were pelted with bottles and other items.
“On arrival at immigration I explained to the officer what had taken place, but he replied: ‘It happens this time every day. The French police change shifts and leave the scene unattended.’ I really could not believe my ears – hundreds of vulnerable drivers sat there totally unprotected, whilst gangs terrorised them.”
David concluded: “I have to say it was a harrowing experience. I have never encountered anything like this whilst performing my duties as a driver.
“This was a very dangerous situation and it really does cause me some concern that drivers and operators receive heavy fines to try and prevent this activity. How can you stop this when the immigrants are armed, dangerous and have absolutely nothing to lose? Government, where is the help? The fence just does not work!”