UK immigration queues 'unacceptable'

27 Apr 2012 | Posted by Carl Thomas

Queues for UK immigration checks have reached unacceptable levels, airport owner BAA has stated. The firm, which counts Glasgow International Aiport and London Stansted among its properties, criticised the fact that passengers have had to wait for at least an hour to get through the immigration controls at the main UK hub, London Heathrow.

A statement from the business read: "Immigration waiting times during peak periods at Heathrow recently have been unacceptable and we have called on the Border Force to address the problem as a matter of urgency."

The observation comes after the high profile resignation of the UK Border Force head, Brodie Clark, last year, amid allegations that he had eased UK immigration controls during peak periods without authorisation.

Efforts have been made since to ensure that there is more consistency in border checks, although it appears that this is coming at a cost, with queues mounting up as the Border Force struggles with staffing issues.

A statement from the Border Force claimed that weather disruption had resulted in the arrival of several flights at once, leading to the latest backlog in passengers at Heathrow. It added: "We will not compromise border security but we always aim to keep disruption to a minimum by using our staff flexibly to meet demand.

"Carrying out full checks can mean queues at peak times while we ensure that only people entitled to enter the UK can do so."

Passengers were understandably frustrated by the delays. Stefan Stern, boss of PR firm Edelman, summarised the situation at Heathrow's Terminal 5 as an "omni-megashambles", noting that he'd had an hour's wait to get through the arrivals hall.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson, took a more serious angle, expressing his concern over the fact that disruption in the immigration system could put "economic growth and jobs at risk".