John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, has today published three reports focusing on the Agency’s operations in Scotland and Northern Ireland: border operations, countering abuse of the Common Travel Area, and the Agency’s representation at first-tier appeals in Scotland.
This inspection took place between 1 November 2010 and 10 January 2011 and focused on the deployment of detection staff to air and seaports, the risk assessment of small ports, the selection of people, vehicles and freight for searching and the treatment of passengers by Agency officers.
At the time of inspection, the Chief Inspector was pleased to find that:
- officers were courteous and professional;
- stakeholder relations were good with port operators speaking highly of the Agency; and
- frontline officers demonstrated a commitment to identifying and seizing illicit commodities, sharing information on trends and using local knowledge to good effect.
However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that:
- at airports, senior managers focused on concentrating the deployment of staff to passport control, potentially at the expense of detecting drugs and other illicit goods;
- there was no current programme to assess the threat posed by small ports and it was unclear who had responsibility for this work within the Agency; and
- there were intelligence gaps regarding potential risks to the border.
John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:
“This inspection assessed the work of the UK Border Agency’s border operations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. I found that the focus of staff deployment at airports was concentrated on the Primary Checkpoint (passport control), potentially at the expense of illicit commodity detection.
“I found that only 63 out of 683 threat assessments of small air and seaports had been conducted in the whole of Scotland and Northern Ireland, with none since 2008. At the ports inspected, I was surprised to find that the Agency had not made any seizures from freight containers for the 14 month period between the end of September 2009 and our inspection in November 2010.
“The Agency needs to improve the way it identifies and addresses threats to the UK border in Scotland and Northern Ireland. I have made seven recommendations to this effect.”
Download the full report as a pdf here: