Independent Chief Inspector publishes report on intelligence

13 May 2011

The UK Border Agency needs to focus on the outcome of intelligence and assess how often allegations lead to the prevention or detection of immigration and customs offences, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his thematic inspection report on how the UK Border Agency receives and uses intelligence.

The inspection took place between 15 October and 9 December 2010 and focused on how the UK Border Agency worked with law enforcement agencies and other bodies to obtain relevant and up to date intelligence. The inspection also looked at how intelligence is then passed to frontline decision makers.

At the time of inspection, the Chief Inspector was pleased to find evidence that:

  • intelligence had been used in particular operations to prevent and detect immigration and customs offences; and
  • the development of Local Immigration Teams and Field Intelligence Officers provided an opportunity for the Agency to work closely with a range of organisations, from whom information could be obtained and developed into intelligence.

However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that:

  • the Agency failed to routinely capture whether allegations received from members of the public had been acted on or how many had resulted in the prevention or detection of immigration or customs offences;
  • there were inconsistent views regarding the role intelligence should play and whether the Agency could or should be intelligence-led;
  • intelligence assessments did not take into account the quality of decision making when seeking ministerial authorisations to discriminate; and
  • different methods were used by frontline staff at ports of entry to identify the people or vehicles that required further examination, with no analysis of which of these best identified potential offences or offenders.

John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:

“Intelligence provides the UK Border Agency with an important means of preventing and detecting immigration and customs offences. This inspection focused on the effectiveness and efficiency with which the Agency receives, develops and uses intelligence.

“The Agency has done a significant amount of work to try to understand the role of intelligence and it is only part of the way through a programme of change. However, there’s a real need for the Agency to focus more rigorously on the actual outcome of intelligence. It is not acceptable, for example, that the Agency fails to routinely capture whether allegations received by members of the public have been acted on or how many have resulted in the prevention or detection of immigration or customs offences.

 “In addition, I expect to see greater assurance that the methods used by the Agency’s frontline staff at ports of entry to subject particular people or goods to further examination are not discriminatory. The UK Border Agency must use intelligence effectively if it is to ensure the law is upheld and its resources are deployed effectively and efficiently.”

Download the full report as a pdf here:

Preventing and detecting immigration and customs offences: A thematic inspection of how the UK Border Agency receives and uses intelligence

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