Poor planning caused long queues at Heathrow

Lack of effective planning amid job cuts are responsible for the long queues at Heathrow airport, a new report by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine shows.

The report shows that there were too few staff at peak times at Terminal Three's passport checks. This damaged "the ability of border staff to maintain effective and efficient controls", Mr. Vine said.

"This was far too much organisational change during Heathrow's busiest time of the year,” Mr Vine said. “I remain concerned that this lack of planning has affected the agency's ability to maintain an effective and efficient border control."

The report also revealed that queues for passport control at Terminal 3 were also not being properly recorded.

The practice of recording queue lengths every hour on the hour had resulted in arbitrary, misleading figures for queuing times at Terminal 3, Mr. Vine said. "The measurement of that queue was not, in my view, as accurate as it should have been. The British Airports Authority measure the queues every 15 minutes," he said.

At Gatwick, Mr. Vine said that “the agency works closer with the airport authorities to use the same data.”

He has recommended that the “agency should work with British Airports Authority to come up with one set of data, which more accurately reflects the demand on the agency."

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: "This report covers the period before the Border Force was split from the UK Border Agency and since then we have taken action to tackle these issues. We now have more staff at the border during peak times, greater flexibility to man immigration and customs controls, clearer guidance for staff on when vital checks are required and a national training programme with more emphasis on mentoring.

"A culture change is under way to make Border Force an organisation that effectively tackles illegal immigration, protects the UK from terrorism and detects crimes like drug trafficking and weapon smuggling."

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