Inexperienced UK border staff 'let in three terror suspects'
Sunday 15 July 2012
Terror suspects are entering the UK ahead of the Olympics because inexperienced border staff are failing to carry out the proper security checks, frontline Heathrow officials have claimed.
The new staff, who have been recruited to shorten queues at Britain's largest airport in the run up to the Games, are repeatedly “missing” passengers on the Home Office watch list who should be referred to counter-terrorism officers when they reach passport control, a senior border officer told the Observer.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the UK Border Agency official claimed three terror suspects had been waved through by staff on his shifts since the start of July.
All were registered on the Home Office suspect index system.
Another employee alleged that staff had missed five suspects in just one day earlier this month.
The senior official told the newspaper: “The missing of counter-terrorism 'hits' is a huge thing, but new recruits are not getting enough time to be taught.
“It is vital these people do not get in without being noted and that the information is passed to the police or security services. Once they're in, you've no idea where they might be going.”
Border officials are instructed immediately to alert counter-terrorism police or MI5 if they suspect an “SX traveller” is attempting to enter the UK.
But a large number of Home Office officials have been drafted in from different departments to help cope with border staffing shortages before the Olympics.
Those working on passport desks have received just basic training with some only getting a day's tuition instead of the standard six to eight weeks, according to The Observer.
A Border Force spokesman said: “An independent inspection published last week concluded that all staff were fully aware of the checks they needed to conduct and that all checks were being completed.
“It also acknowledged the positive addition of hundreds of extra staff deployed to meet demand, the creation of a central control room to manage resources and ongoing recruitment of more border officers.
“All contingency staff deployed to the border are fully trained and supported by experienced Border Force officers at all times.
“Border Force has already delivered real improvements at Heathrow and is transforming the way it works to deliver improved waiting times and a secure border.”
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