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Border Force ‘neglecting duties’ and ‘weakening’ security – MPs

10 December 2013

Is the Border Force fit for purpose? At one point it became a model for reform with ministers arguing that its performance had improved significantly since it was split from UKBA in March 2012 into a separate law enforcement body. But today the Public Accounts Committee suggests the Border Force isn’t quite fighting fit: more puffing at the back of the line and a bit paunchy. The PAC’s report points to weakened security at the border as the Border Force is forced to prioritise passenger checks over checking freight for illicit goods or illegal immigrants, gaps in intelligence on those coming into the country, and ‘inadequate IT systems’. It has missed eight of its 19 targets for seizure and detection targets, and the committee demanded that the Force ‘set out how it will ensure that it delivers its full range of duties across all ports to provide the required level of security’.

Now, few people reading the report this morning will be spilling their breakfast cereal in surprise that our borders aren’t being manned as well as they should. But there’s one point worth considering from the report that has a wider political significance. The report points to ‘limited resources’, particularly increasingly limited resources at the Force’s disposal as a result of Spending Review cuts. This could be used by a Home Secretary, current or future, to argue that their budget has been sliced enough already – and don’t forget that last week George Osborne announced that he wants an additional £1bn of savings a year for the next three years. But just in case a minister is tempted to make this argument, it’s worth bearing in mind that the PAC seems to think that the Border Force still has scope to improve the way it works. The report says:

‘To balance its books the Border Force will be increasingly reliant on achieving greater workforce flexibility and little progress had been made in recent years, with 40% of staff at Heathrow still on inflexible work contracts. The Border Force will also need to make better use of technical advances, such as more and improved automatic clearance gates at the border.

‘The Border Force must demonstrate through effective, realistic planning that it can deliver its workload within the resources available.’

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  • mark tayler

    The LiblabCon can’t get immigration controlled.

    No wonder we need UKIP.

  • the viceroy’s gin

    The Border Force seemed to have sufficient resources to insidiously abet the authorities in kidnapping that pregnant Italian woman, forcing her to have a premature C-section, confiscating and placing her infant for adoption despite the woman’s protests and sending her back to Italy without her baby. Perhaps then there’s a problem with the proper application of Border Force resources, rather than a deficiency in their numbers. If they have sufficient resources to illegitimately act as a snake in the grass, then they have sufficient resources to do a better job at what they are legally obligated to do.

    But this Border Force expose is pretty much just another Cameroonian distraction. The Cameroons know that they are in deep trouble over immigration, and they’re seeking to put on a show somewhere, anywhere. The Speccie teenagers are doing their part, as usual, with a concerned Dave photographed in full concern, showing the unconcerned plebs how to do their job in concerned fashion.

    But contrary to Dave’s distractions here, the real issues are in tracking down and deporting the countless illegal aliens and ne’er-do-wells who are already inside the border (most of whom crossed the border legally), and in blocking the coming wave of EU immigrants, who are also going to be crossing legally.

    So basically, the Camerluvvies are using the Border Force as a dodge to distract attention from their own failure to deal with immigration issues.

    It won’t work, Dave. Everybody is on to you now. The cheap tricks won’t work anymore. You’re finished, laddie.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Two years ago the Police Federation and the ACPO allowed a minor protest in Tottenham to become national disorder to make a point over ‘Tory Cuts’. Now Mark Sewotka’s PCSU and the FDA are engineering problems on their own patch to make the same point.

    Oh that we had a political party sufficiently detached from
    these ideologues and with the will to take these fckrs on.

    • Border Boy

      The reality is that the unions representing staff within the Border Force are entirely without power. It’s not the unions who are the problem, but the government who talk tough about robust controls, but who provide neither the Rules, the staff nor the systems to deliver a secure border.

      Furthermore, the government has left In place a complex appeals and judicial rights regime which can delay departure almost indefinitely and which is expensive. The Abu Qatada case illustrates this point.

      Like a lot of things the public find desirable it doesn’t come cheap. The real question is do we want a secure border and an effective removals system and if we do are the government prepared to take the tough decisions necessary?

  • Daniel Maris

    The Tories are running out of excuses. It’s not the Border Agency that’s to blame, it’s the government’s mass immigration policy.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Oh dear the sorry tail of the Tories immigration failure continues. They’ve already sacked one UKBA head, reformed and restructured the organisation and shifted a particularly ineffectual Europhiliac immigration minster (Green) into a job (Police) where the damage had already been done by his boss (May).

    Given her own sorry tale of putting her foot in her mouth over immigration (how many times has she been forced to apologise to Parliament for misleading them?), the lengths that the government has already gone to and the increasing likelihood that she is going to fail in her primary objective (reducing net immigration to tens of thousands) is it coming to the point where May or indeed Cameron should be considering her position. She is in far too important a job for her gender to save her!

    Coz Dave doesn’t do Home Office matters its been all rather low profile during this parliament but that doesn’t mean that it has been any less a failure under the Tories. Now for such failure to happen under the ‘party of Immigration and Law & Order’ is a terrible indictment indeed.

  • Noa

    It seems to me that the twin objectives of ‘balancing their books’ and ‘delivering their workload’ are entirely reasonable requirements which we have every right to expect, particularly in guarding our borders.
    However, in examining the details the government ‘forgets’ that it is failing to balance its own books, hence an annual deficit of £140 billion and a National Debt of £1.4 Trillion.
    And how well is the government performing in its ‘workload’?
    By the application of the same criteria, not well at all.
    And is the Border Agency’s failure to reduce ‘immigration to the stated target of ‘tens of thousands’ its fault, or that of the ineffectuality of the Coalition government?

  • Treebrain

    What a surprise, the current government of the UK is simply not capable of securing the borders of the UK, just like the Labour administration before them!

    Inadequate resources, useless IT systems, poor management, week leadership the typical list of excuses and shortcomings.

    Get a grip Cameron, or see UKIP reap the results of your incompetence and negligence.

    • Colonel Mustard

      There is a difference between not securing our borders and not wanting to secure our borders. The slightest effort to prevent illegal immigration or deport unwanted foreigners brings on the full ‘outrage’ reaction of the usual suspects, determined to see this country as it once was completely destroyed and turned into some kind of mega urban, multi-culti, happy clappy, global city state of endless street parties, ‘vibrancy’ (the new word for rampant third world crime and chaos) and drop-in centres. The politicians responsible are absolutely terrified of the ‘racist’ epithet which is deployed to counter the slightest common sense.

      You’ve seen Blade Runner right?

  • Graeme S

    Absolute Joke … we Know they are incapable, we see millions of illegals entering the country willy nilly , they just walked in !! FFS

  • saffrin

    Give the UK Border force some teeth before you claim neglect. With the powers they have now, it’s all but pointless them getting out of bed.
    What is the point of catching illegals if the law states nothing can be done without the paperwork?
    What is the point of having a British Prime Minister when that man is named Cameron?

  • In2minds

    Do we control our own borders or are we told what to do by the EU?

  • Border Boy

    It has been known for a long time that there are major gaps in border security. What is the point of a 100% checkout at our major ports, sometimes meaning long queues, when arrivals at small ports or from the Republic of Ireland go largely unchecked?

    Providing sufficient resources is at the heart of the problem. Annualised hours (flexible) working has been introduced at the same time as as team working. The overall effect of team working in particular has been disasterous since it does not allow managers to finesse their staff deployment to match passenger flows and is much less flexible than the previous system.

    Annualised hours working provides only a marginal advantage and will go nowhere near covering the small ports/Republic of Ireland problems. If the Government is really serious about border security it will have to stump up the staff and systems to deliver it. This is costly and the Government can be judged by their actions to plug the gaps rather than by routine, but meaningless statements about implementing “robust controls” which most insiders know are a joke.

    • Russell

      I would suggest France is a bigger problem than Ireland. I don’t know of any camps in Ireland full of migrants waiting to illegally cross into the UK!

      • Border Boy

        Not sure you have grasped the fundamentals here. There are lots of checks performed on traffic from France, including looking for clandestines in vehicles. It might not be as thorough as some would like, but the checks do routinely take place. On the other hand there are very few, if any checks taking place on arrivals from Ireland, which is part of the Common Travel Area. The CTA allows travel without a passport (although the Irish now insist on passports) but this means that lots of travellers from all over the world arrive in Ireland precisely to travel to the UK to avoid UK controls. An open sore that we are not addressing.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The first step would be to ensure disciplined forces were actually disciplined forces and not union dominated iron rice bowls more interested in pay and conditions, policing diversity and complaining about every perceived offence and inequality than protecting and serving the public. Sadly we are beyond that.

  • Russell

    Perhaps the Armed Forces, the army, could be used to greater affect to prevent illegals entering this country and taking them back to their last safe country (usually France)by sea!. The Armed Forces should be utilised when they are not involved in foreign ‘adventures’ at the behest of the government including a much more active participation in emergencies like floods etc.

    • DWWolds


      • Graeme S


  • zanzamander

    There is always someone blaming pay and conditions isn’t there.

    The fact of the matter is that working for government is akin to jumping on a gravy train, with no responsibility, no accountability and certainly no loyalty but still a fat pension at the end of it!

    Privatise the whole lot!

  • Span Ows

    Is this the bit where we blame the immigration problems on the Coalition?

  • zanzamander

    I knew it, the moment someone points out any inefficiencies in government/public agencies, these two magic words are not far behind: “limited resources”.

    • Russell

      Absolutely right. Same in hospitals where huddles of NHS staff appear in every camera shot of them ‘struggling to cope’ and in the schools, police etc. There are still thousands of ‘Pilgrims’ in all these public sector departments carrying out trade union work instead of doing what taxpayers pay them to do!

  • Tom Tom

    The British are incapable of governing themselves. It is a Failed State. They are so incompetent they cannot even run The Minimal State guaranteeing internal and extermal security. This is a former imperial power in an advanced state of decay.

    • Colonel Mustard

      They can, however, use the full force of the law to arrest and detain people for making online jokes about Nelson Mandela.

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