Latest Public Sector News

10.12.13

Prioritising passenger checks has ‘weakened border security’

The Border Force has been neglecting security duties, MPs have warned.

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has published a report setting out a number of issues with the way the Border Force’s work is being planned and implemented.

Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the committee, said: “The Border Force prioritised passenger checks on arrival at the expense of other duties and weakened the security of our borders.”

These duties include examining freight for illicit goods, and checking passengers in private planes or boats. The Border Force has missed 8 out of 19 of its seizure and detection targets and faces significant growth in demand both in passenger numbers and air freight.

The committee criticised the Border Force’s workforce planning, which led to paying out redundancy and then rehiring staff. There are also gaps in the data it receives on people arriving in the UK, which must be addressed.

Other recommendations include setting out how the Border Force will ensure it delivers its full range of duties across all ports; to demonstrate it can deliver its workload within the resources available; have functional IT systems in place; and provide strong and stable leadership.

Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “These are exactly the issues we have consistently warned about in the last few years, given the scale of cuts being demanded, but we were often ignored and even vilified by senior officials and ministers.

“Instead of treating its own staff as the problem, the Home Office must urgently accept the importance of investing in resources to address the very serious concerns this report raises.”

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