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Matthew Holliday, Director of Approval Schemes, National Security Inspectorate (NSI), describes the significant scale of supply chain cargo crime losses and outlines NSI’s appointment as a regional Independent Audit Body of the Transported Asset Protection Association (TAPA EMEA).
According to TAPA – the leading supply chain resilience and security body, founded in 1997 to tackle the multi-billion-dollar problem of cargo thefts from supply chains worldwide – the UK is one of the most severely impacted countries for recorded cargo crime within the EMEA region.
Between January 2020 and June 2022, 5,751 theft incidents from supply chains were reported to TAPA’s EMEA Intelligence System in the UK. On average, over £100,000 of goods were stolen from supply chains in Britain every day during this period, though this statistic is caveated since the majority of cargo crimes go unreported.
Cargo theft represents a major concern for UK businesses and the UK economy as virtually all goods are at risk of being stolen from transport supply chains, not only high value luxury goods. Everyday basic items such as food and drink, clothing and footwear, cosmetics and hygiene products are at risk, alongside pharmaceuticals and tools as well as tobacco, IT equipment, phones, car parts, metal and household appliances.
These incidents occur through thefts of and from vehicles, trailers, containers and facilities in road, rail, aviation and maritime transportation. Stolen goods can end up online, sold in markets and pubs, passed on to less scrupulous/smaller shopkeepers, or even transported overseas for sale in other countries.
While organised crime groups are very active in cargo crime around the UK, across the EMEA region TAPA is also seeing more crimes involving thefts of much smaller quantities of goods with lower values, which might indicate a rise in opportunist thefts, the activities of small-time thieves or even more first-time offenders.
The evolving nature of cargo crime also includes significant growth in fraudulent pick-ups: drivers and vehicles using falsified identification and documentation. Offenders create fake profiles on online freight exchanges and bid low to ‘win’ shipment deliveries. Often, loads secured by thieves via online exchanges are then outsourced to legitimate transport providers. Once they collect the goods the thieves notify the innocent driver of a change of delivery address.
Last mile deliveries are also seeing growing criminal attacks, since criminals know drivers frequently leave their vehicles unattended and that smaller transport vehicles often have less security.
Ultimately, the costs of cargo crime find their way back to consumers, meaning all parties lose out. The scale of the challenge is therefore clear, with supply chains being seen as easy and lucrative targets and attacks becoming smarter and increasingly sophisticated. Yet many crimes are caused by a simple lack of due diligence and, with its mission to minimise cargo losses, TAPA believes resilience can be built into supplier networks to avoid cargo thefts using existing solutions.
These involve the Association’s independently certified supply chain security standards for facilities, trucking and secure parking, with related training to support the adoption of these standards. TAPA EMEA uses ‘live’ 24/7 cargo crime intelligence to help its manufacturing and logistics service provider members see and learn from actual cargo loss incidents, as well as digital mapping and data to support secure route planning and to mitigate other known risks. In the UK the Association is partnering with the National Business Crime Solution (NBCS) to support its National Police Information Sharing Agreement, a landmark initiative that will enable the NBCS to request and exchange information and intelligence with all 43 UK police forces. TAPA EMEA hopes this will facilitate a significant rise in cargo crime intelligence in the UK and, subsequently, lead to greater cargo security and more resilient supply chains.
In its new role as a regional EMEA independent audit body for TAPA, acting across the UK, NSI’s fully trained auditors will work with TAPA members, comprising manufacturers/shippers, logistics service providers, freight transport and security services companies, to support the adoption and growth of TAPA’s three primary Standards: Facility Security, Trucking Security and Secure Parking.
TAPA EMEA’s Facility Security Requirements (FSR) Standard protects high value and theft-targeted products in environments such as warehouse operations, in-transit storage within supply chains and distribution centres. The FSR Standard specifies minimum acceptable security standards and processes to be used, including specifications for service providers to follow in order to attain TAPA FSR certification.
Secondly, the Trucking Security Requirements (TSR) Standard protects products transported by road with the aim of preventing criminal attacks and ensuring the safety of drivers, vehicles and cargoes. The TSR Standard includes guidance on management support and responsibilities, tracking and tracing, on-route protocols, physical security, and driver security training.
The third Standard covers Parking Security Requirements; trucks parked in unclassified or unsecured parking places are involved in over 50% of the thousands of cargo losses in the EMEA region reported to the TAPA EMEA Intelligence System. The prevalence of crimes involving trucks in the UK is exacerbated by the severe lack of secure parking.
Sharing a common not-for-profit remit with TAPA, NSI’s experienced auditors’ skillsets are being deployed to help tackle the unacceptable level and growing value of cargo thefts, as well as improving supply chain resilience within the UK.
With supply chains under greater pressure than ever from factors including driver shortages, rising fuel prices and migrant intrusion, third-party certified risk mitigation is an opportunity to square this vicious circle.
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