In 2020, it was estimated there were more than 4,000 HGV, freight, and cargo crimes nationally, resulting in a £250 million cost to the UK.
This actual cost involves reputational damage for the haulier and potentially the brand whose goods are stolen. Further costs arise when hauliers have no access to vehicles having to receive post-theft repairs to curtains or diesel tanks. Loss of contracts is another financial hit.
Whilst customers whose goods are stolen can potentially recoup their losses through insurance, the losses experienced by an HGV operator, already working on very tight margins, can be catastrophic. It is the HGV operator who often pays the price of this crime.
That is why there is an increased expectation for efficient, well managed, and high-quality lorry parks and truck stop facilities in order to combat vehicle and cargo crime.
A new assessment tool, Park Mark Freight, follows the success of the Safer Parking scheme’s Park Mark initiative which is aimed primarily at the prevention of criminal behaviour within the parking environment. It requires owners/operators to adopt an active management strategy to ensure that there is minimal occurrence of crime. More than 4,500 car parks hold the Park Mark award which has been awarded to facilities that pass the strict assessment criteria.
Park Mark Freight aims to enhance the highest quality of today’s lorry parks and facilities in services and operations, informing current and potential customers of the highest standards in all aspects of the lorry parking or truck stop experience and enables operators and providers to show the value of their parking services.
Achieving Park Mark Freight status demonstrates that a lorry park or truck stop operator has achieved the highest lorry parking standards whilst providing exceptional customer service. Only good management can ensure that measures are in place to reduce crime and the fear of crime.
Sara Fisher, Head of Operations and Business Development at the British Parking Association, a not-for-profit membership association representing the UK’s parking and mobility sector. The association represents over 750 corporate members and more than 650 individuals and also manages the Safer Parking scheme on behalf of police crime prevention initiatives.
Sara said: “The freight industry experiences a high volume of cargo theft and the main Safer Parking scheme assessment guidelines do not explicitly cover this type of business. Facilities awarded the Park Mark Freight award are subject to an annual assessment to ensure the high standards required by the award are attained and maintained. To be granted Park Mark Freight, a parking facility must demonstrate a wide range of responsibilities which includes low crime, measures in place to enhance the safety of people and vehicles, good management and operations, and exemplary customer service and facilities.”
The National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) is the national policing unit that works hard to disrupt criminality and protect communities from the harm caused by vehicle finance crime and serious, organised crime.
DCI Brett Mallon, Head of Unit at NaVCIS, said: “The UK freight sector is targeted by organised criminals stealing cargos and fuel. The impact on the UK economy runs to hundreds of millions of pounds and ultimately, we all pay these costs through higher prices.”
“Both the Government and the police take this very seriously with recently announced central funds being made available to help improve infrastructure and security at lorry parks, and through policing operations that are catching the criminals involved.
“It has long been thought, through our policing and industry partners, that the UK needs to adopt a secure truck parking standard that is robust enough to defeat serious and organised criminality rather than to deter your opportunist cargo thief.
“Lorry parks and truck stops that achieve a high standard of security and are awarded the Park Mark Freight accreditation, are annually assessed by police crime prevention officers.
“The Park Mark Freight scheme is an excellent initiative to help combat UK cargo crime.”
Sites such as the Red Lion in Northampton have introduced security measures to reduce cargo crime and it was one of the early recipients of the Park Mark Freight award. Site operator, Ali Sadrudin and his team take security extremely seriously. “This award is a great asset to us and lets drivers and hauliers know we continue to be serious about protecting them and their vehicles,” said Ali. “To receive the award is a fantastic achievement.”
The Red Lion has also taken extra measures to ensure female drivers feel comfortable and safe during their visits. Amenities such as women’s showers, toilets, and changing rooms are available. These measures haven’t been unnoticed as, in January 2023, the truck stop was named a Top UK truck stop for female HGV drivers.
As a police assessment is required to achieve the Park Mark Freight standards, Park Mark Freight award holders are displayed on the dedicated Park Mark website (www.parkmark.co.uk) where members of the public and lorry drivers can search for accredited parking facilities.
Operators will automatically receive a certificate when they achieve the standards of Park Mark Freight and news of the award will be circulated to media outlets, feature on the BPA’s media website, be posted across social media channels, and included in its member publication, Parking News.
Recipients of the award are encouraged to promote their success on social media using the Park Mark Freight logo to help raise the profile of their facility and the scheme in general.
To find out more about the Park Mark Freight scheme, visit: www.britishparking.co.uk/park-mark-freight or email: email@example.com
For more information on cargo crime, contact NaVCIS here: https://navcis.police.uk/