The Home Office has revealed that it is in discussion about plans to boost Border Forces by recruiting volunteers to help with UK immigration.
Under the new proposals, teams of UK immigration volunteers would be tasked with accompanying employed Border Force staff to increase staffing levels for custom controls and immigration. However, the Home Office has stated that volunteers would not be responsible for immigration enforcement.
The discussions were prompted by concerns amongst MPs that the UK immigration coverage at a number of harbours and landing sites was not strong enough to ensure complete security.
“Small ports and airfields are a known security weakness in our border security, so it’s important to ensure that security is stepped up, particularly to stop illegal immigrants and returning Isis fighters,” said Charlie Elphicke, the MP for Dover.
However, ministers including Mr Elphicke have also expressed concern over the use of volunteers in border positions. He added: “Border security is a skilled job, which takes many years of training. I would urge great caution before seeking to adopt a model like that used by the police, with special constables. We can’t have a Dad’s Army-type of set-up.”
Yvette Cooper, Labour MP and chair of the home affairs select committee, mirrored these comments. According to Ms Cooper, the filling of border employment gaps with volunteers as a result of budget cuts suggests the Home Office is not adequately committed to “this important public service”.