Letter: Britain defends useless borders

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The Independent Online
Sir: Forty years ago the Treaty of Rome envisaged the removal of all obstacles to the free movement of people between member states. In 1986 the Single European Act contemplated the ending of frontier controls. Today a new government solemnly advances the specious argument that our island position somehow justifies the maintenance of border controls between the UK and EU countries ("Germans say action must follow words", 21 May). As a result, we are likely to be excluded from important EU decisions on cross-border crime and immigration policy.

Traditional border checks lull people into a false sense of security. Random customs search and blanket passport verifications are an inefficient use of resources better employed elsewhere in the country to tackle serious crime. My years at the Bar taught me that great cross-border crime busts are almost invariably the result of shared intelligence.

The UK Customs and Excise service lobbies powerfully against change, ostensibly fearful of job losses, but perhaps merely reflecting their reluctance to accept more challenging work practices. Robin Cook's current policy offers travellers to and from the Continent an enduring prospect of dismal passport queues and whey-faced officials rifling through personal possessions in order to discover the occasional adult video or small block of cannabis resin.

ANDREW ROSE

Blandford Forum,

Dorset

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