Letter: Spot checks at UK points of entry

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is to be welcomed that an agreement has been reached between Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, and the EC Internal Market Commissioner, Martin Bangemann, to allow the UK to maintain spot checks at UK points of entry on EC citizens entering the country (report, 3 August). However, once the efficacy of checks on immigration and imports at external points of entry into all Community countries can be demonstrated, surely these checks should be random and generally perfunctory.

The UK government rightly contends that checks are to ensure that non-EC citizens do not interfere with the rights of free movement of persons and goods within the EC. These rights are, of course, guaranteed by the 1987 Single European Act (no Maastricht innovations these).

At the same time, some sense of balance must be kept. Border checks may well help in the detection of illegal importation of pets. However, the value of border checks in relation to EC citizens for the detection of drug trafficking, illegal immigration and terrorism is in danger of being overstated. Most drug seizures are not made at borders and terrorists are rarely caught there.

The interests of us all as individuals and the convenience of business, and so British prosperity, lie in ease of passage between member states.

Yours faithfully,

NICHOLAS BOURNE

London, E18

The writer is Professor of Law at Swansea Law School

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