UKBA condemned for its operations in Scotland, Northern Ireland

Depending on intelligence more than two years old

20th May, 2011: The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has been condemned in a report examining its operations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Independent inspector John Vine has expressed concern over the agency’s functioning at major ports and airports.
UKBA is responsible for controlling immigration, asylum and customs regulations. The inspection of border operations was held between took place between 1 November 2010 and 10 January 2011.

The inspection concentrated on the deployment of detection staff to air and seaports, the danger estimation of small ports, the assortment of people, vehicles and freight for searching and the treatment of passengers by agency officers.

According to the report Vine established senior managers concentrated on moving staff to passport control, potentially at the expense of discovering drugs and other illicit goods.

He further said the agency had not evaluated the danger to small ports and airports. He added that the agency required improving the way it identified and addresses threats to the UK border in Scotland and Northern Ireland and have even suggested seven measures to this effect.

In his review, Vine highlighted that there had been no confiscation from freight containers for more than 14 months. He also added that there had been no evaluation of the threat posed at small air and sea ports for three years.

The chief inspector also recognised problems, in the way, the agency handled the risks associated with people landing in the Irish Republic and travelling on to the UK.
 He said they were depending on intelligence which was more than two years old.

 Vine said he was pleased to find frontline officers exhibiting a commitment to recognise and grab illicit commodities, sharing information on trends and using local knowledge to good effect.

At the same time he found that the focus of staff deployment at airports was concentrated on the primary checkpoint (passport control), potentially at the cost of illicit commodity finding.

 He said, “I found that only 63 out of 683 threat assessments of small air and seaports had been conducted in the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland, with none since 2008.”

At the ports inspected, he was astonished to find that the agency had not made any confiscation from freight containers for the 14-month period between the end of September 2009 and the inspection in November 2010.

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