'Elite' force to guard borders under Tories

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Indy Politics

An elite police force guarding Britain's frontiers would be set up by a Conservative government, Michael Howard said. The Tory leader denounced the country's "lax" border controls as inadequate for deterring terrorists, illegal immigrants or people smugglers.

The new force will replace the 7,400 people - including customs officers, immigration staff, Special Branch and ports police - who currently screen arrivals.

Mr Howard said: "We will have one face at the border, one police force. With one chief constable, with just one job - securing Britain's borders.

"The clearest line of accountability in any organisation is to a single individual: a person who sits behind a desk with a sign that says: 'I'm responsible - the buck stops here.'"

The annual budget for border control is currently £469m, but the new Tory force would be likely to cost about £500m.

Round-the-clock surveillance would be introduced in all 35 of Britain's main ports by the Conservatives. According to the party, it now only operates in 11 of them.

The Tories would reintroduce embarkation controls at ports and airports, extend the use of biometric visas to cover countries that are the main sources of illegal immigration and speed up the removal of failed asylum-seekers.