News Archive - November 2011

UK immigration powers 'suspended' certain border checks

08 Nov 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The integrity of the UK immigration forces along with the country's national security were put at risk by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) during the summer months.

This is according to the Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, who is demanding to know more about which border controls the agency allegedly relaxed earlier this year.

In a letter to the home secretary Theresa May, Ms Cooper asked for figures regarding the potential number of terror suspects and illegal immigrants who may have entered the country after staff were allegedly told to relax identity checks on non-European Union nationals in order to deal with the mounting queues at border control points.

Back in July, the government announced that checks on EU nationals could be reduced in 'limited circumstances' and stated that the biometric passports need only be checks 'upon the discretion of a UKBA official', rather than automatically.

However, Brodie Clark, head of the country's border force and a board member of the UKBA, has been accused of telling staff at the time to follow the guidance in relation to people from outside of the EU.

Ms Cooper called upon the home secretary to clarify whether anybody entered the country during this time who could pose a security threat the the UK.

She added: “We need to know if someone on a watch list entered the UK during this time, and for the police and security services to take the necessary steps to protect the public.”

The Labour MP is also keen to ensure that the independent inquiry that is now to take place has a sufficiently wide remit to fully investigate the actions of the Home Office, the ministers and “the effect of resource cuts on UKBA decision-making” and urged officials to publish all documents and correspondence relating to the issue of passport checks.