UKBA cuts staff by 5,200 bringing numbers down to 18,000 by 2015

Nothing less than 5,200 staff will be cut from the UK Border Agency, bringing down the numbers to 18,000 by 2015.

Some 1,552 jobs will go in the UKBA before the next general election, including 886 this financial year.

The figures came out as Home Secretary Theresa May faced another intense questioning session by MPs following the political storm over relaxed border controls at UK ports during the peak summer period.

May refuted the allegations that the cuts led to the unauthorised reductions in border controls.

May did agree that she had authorized a watering down of checks, but senior officials at the UK's border force gave a goodbye to key checks against a Home Office database without ministerial approval.

May agreed the number of suspected terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants who entered the country as a result may never be known.

She reiterated the head of the services of UK border force Brodie Clark and two others have been placed under suspension and those responsible will be punished.

May told the Commons Clark confirmed he had gone further than the pilot scheme allowed. The confirmation came when UKBA independent chief inspector John Vine raised concerns last week.

She elaborated biometric checks on European nationals and checks against the Home Office database on children from the European Economic Area (EEA) "were abandoned on a regular basis, without ministerial approval".

She added the adults were not checked against the database at Calais and the fingerprints of non-European nationals from countries that require a visa were stopped.

But, she insisted: "I did not give my consent or authorisation for any of these decisions. Indeed I told officials explicitly that the pilot was to go no further than we had agreed."

Keen public servants, eager to see tough immigration controls, let down by senior officials: May

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