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Committee calls for risk based check pilot at borders

The Home Affairs Select Committee has published a report focusing on passport queues following concern over the chaotic scenes witnessed at major UK ports this year. The Committee found that passport queues have been too long at major national ports for the last year.

Monthly maximum queue times nationwide (for both EEA and non- EEA) passengers have been between one hour 55 minutes and two hours 55 minutes since June 2011. Border Force missed their target for processing non-EEA passengers within 45 minutes at every Heathrow Terminal in April 2012.

The Committee concluded that:

  • Maximum queue times have been consistently too high for the last twelve months. It is unacceptable for these long queue times to recur on a monthly basis.
  • Some carriers are resigning themselves to reducing their revenue because the Border Force does not have the capacity to provide them with an adequate service.
  • Many airlines have years of experience in providing advanced passenger information to the United States and are now obliged to provide advanced information to e-Border before departure. Border Force do not always use this information as best they could.

The Committee has recommended that Border Force take the following steps to resolve the problems:

  • Adopt a target for reducing the maximum queuing time at the border, applying to all ports of entry, in addition to its existing service standards.
  • Adopt, in consultation with port operators, a more frequent measurement of queues in order to improve accuracy and to inform staff rostering decisions more fully. Maximum queues lengths should be measured and published on a monthly basis for all UK ports.
  • Border Force should install “waiting time” boards in all arrivals halls at major ports.
  • If the control room at Heathrow continues to be a success then the model should be adopted at other major ports where appropriate.
  • E-gates must remain operational at all times when flights are arriving.

The Committee has recommended that the Home Office:

  • Immediately reintroduce the risk based entry check pilot that the Home Secretary suspended in November 2011.
  • Immediately carry out a full reappraisal of the number of Border Force staff needed across the UK if it wishes to persist with 100% entry checks for all passengers.
  • Bring forward the reinstatement of ‘smart zones’ as a matter of urgency.

Contains Parliamentary information licensed under the Open Parliament Licence v1.0.


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