A report published today by the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency has found that the creation of the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON) has led to a number of significant achievements however there are still challenges to be overcome.
The report “An inspection of the Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON) in Islamabad and the United Arab Emirates” is one of three inspection reports which together provide a comprehensive assessment of entry clearance operations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Pakistan and the United Kingdom.
RALON was created in October 2008 by amalgamating the overseas Airline Liaison Officer Network and the Risk Assessment Unit. It has around 100 officers posted in over 50 countries, coordinated by a UK based operations centre.
The Independent Chief Inspector, John Vine CBE QPM was pleased to note that RALON continued to exceed its target of denying boarding to 90% of inadequately documented passengers and had also developed and maintained strong partner relationships. These relationships had helped RALON support the UK Border Agency’s visa operation in tackling the high volumes of visa application abuse.
However, Mr Vine also found that RALON was missing opportunities to generate intelligence and that its handling and reporting processes were inconsistent, due in part to a lack of staff training and guidance. Where intelligence had been reported, Mr Vine saw evidence of a backlog of approximately 650 reports in the RALON Operations Centre which had yet to be entered into the UK Border Agency’s intelligence database. As a result, the UK Border Agency and its partners were being denied access to potentially valuable intelligence.
Mr Vine said, “I was pleased to find that RALON in Islamabad and the United Arab Emirates continued to make significant achievements despite the often difficult circumstances that RALON staff work in. Additionally I found evidence of good team work and morale appeared to be high. However, there needs to be a greater understanding of the importance of sharing and using intelligence properly. Failing to do so could potentially impact on the integrity of the intelligence and the credibility of the UK Border Agency and also put at risk the sources and subjects of their intelligence.”
Download the full report as a PDF here: