May admits 500,000 entered UK without full security checks

 

The UK Border Agency is to be stripped of its enforcement powers after an investigation uncovered a catalogue of failures that allowed hundreds of thousands of people into the country without adequate checks.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered that the UK Border Force be separated from the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and established as a separate force with a senior police officer put in charge. Its enforcement role includes refusing entry to passengers without suitable entry papers, catching smugglers, identifying fugitives and arresting illegal immigrants.

She announced the split as she told MPs that the Vine report into border security checks had identified repeated failings. They included the failure to carry out checks designed to identify terrorists trying to enter the UK.

Checks, including Warnings Index checks on 500,000 people travelling into the UK on Eurostar services, were often suspended without ministerial approval, the report by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of the UKBA, found.

Much of the report was devoted to highlighting the failings of the UKBA but ministers also came under fire for a "lack of clarity" in their dealings with staff at the agency and for using language that included references to "summer pressures" and "further measures" that were open to interpretation.

Mr Vine launched his investigation last year after it emerged that border checks were being relaxed at ports and airports without ministerial approval.

He found security checks had been suspended regularly and applied inconsistently since at least 2007 as border staff attempted to keep passengers flowing through ports without long delays. Ms May told the Commons: "The Vine report reveals a Border Force that suspended important checks without permission; that spent millions on new technologies but chose not to use them; that was led by managers who did not communicate with their staff; and that sent reports to ministers that were inaccurate, unbalanced and excluded key information."

Mrs May added that, despite many checks being missed, the failures did not mean people being waved through customs with no checks.

Brodie Clark, the head of the UK border force, quit in November amid the row over lax border security soon after being suspended. He had admitted using guidance designed for health and safety emergencies to suspend fingerprint checks at the UK's ports, actions which had no ministerial authorisation, but accused Mrs May of publicly blaming him for "political convenience".

LOSING TRACK: HOW CONTROLS WERE CUT

* Warning Index checks, in which passengers are checked against a list of undesirables, were suspended 354 times, affecting 500,000 people arriving on the Eurostar.

* Chip readers for biometric checks were deactivated 14,812 times from January to June 2011.

* Secure ID checks, fingerprints scans for those requiring visas, were suspended 482 times between June 2010 and November 2011.

* Operation Savant, a scheme at Heathrow which made entry easier for students from low-risk countries, was created without the knowledge of senior staff or ministers.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before