Leading article: Time to fix our borders

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The Independent Online

It would be easy for Britain to react with complacency to the warning from Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol, that Europe's startlingly poor border controls are leaving it open to another major terrorist attack.

On the plus side, the UK is not party to the Schengen Agreement, which allows people to move around within much of the EU without a passport. In theory at least, we are insulated from the effects of the Continent's more porous borders. Some 140 million people are checked through UK borders annually, and last year more than 11,000 of them were caught using lost or stolen passports.

It is nonetheless a cause for grave concern that there is no obligation under Schengen for other EU states to make the same checks. Europe is only as secure as its weakest border, and the scale of the threat cannot be overstated.

Equally, although Mr Noble may have praised UK immigration controls compared with those of our neighbours, the British system is far from perfect. Only last month, the head of the border force quit in a row over a relaxation of security which the Home Secretary claimed had been done without her knowledge. That Brodie Clark is now suing for constructive dismissal only adds to the alarming sense of confusion and buck-passing in this vital area of national security. It can only be hoped that Mr Noble's stark warnings about Europe add to the pressure for much-needed reforms at home.