Victoria Police calls for industry bravery on COR

By: Steve Skinner

VicPol appeals for drivers and operators to come forward about dodgy customers on chain of responsibility

Victoria Police calls for industry bravery on COR
Victoria Police aren’t stopping any trucking customers in court

Victoria Police wants the trucking industry to provide more than just anecdotes when it comes to dobbing in customers who are breaching the chain of responsibility.

VicPol says drivers and operators need to have the courage of their convictions when it comes to customers who are pressuring them, for example on fatigue.

"We’ve often received information about that type of breach but it’s very difficult to get drivers and transport companies to actually come forward and make a statement and provide us with the precise details that we need to mount a prosecution," says Detective Inspector Bernie Rankin, who heads up the Heavy Vehicle Unit within VicPol.

"It’s all very well to anecdotally report something but we need a lot better than that … and if drivers in the industry and companies in the industry know of distribution centres, of customers putting a regime on drivers that is not sustainable, then they need to tell us. But of course there is a reluctance within industry to do that."

Nevertheless four distribution centres have received improvement notices in the 12 months to February this year (another 70 notices went to transport companies).

"We’ve actually visited a large number of distribution centres," Insp Rankin says.

"We do get a lot of anecdotal information that that the drivers are parking too long and that the service they receive from distribution centres is not up to scratch, and we’re aware that’s a vexed issue within the transport industry."

The Heavy Vehicle Unit within Victoria police has 25 people who are authorised to do chain of responsibility investigations.

But despite that impressive number there are no VicPol prosecutions of any customers under COR.

As well as a reluctance of drivers and operators to give evidence, other factors cited by VicPol for a lack of customer prosecutions include effectiveness of the alternative improvement notices (which don’t involve a fine); problems with the chain of responsibility legislation itself, which make it easier for customers to get off the hook; and a need to beef up its own investigative capability.

Check out the feature on chain of responsibility in Victoria in the April issue of ATN

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