Re-inspection of Heathrow Airport – Border Force makes progress but there’s room for improvement.

Border Force at Heathrow made good progress in complying with guidance on detention and searching of passengers, said David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI). In his re-inspection report published today, Mr Bolt recognises that Border Force’s performance at Heathrow Airport improved.

The re-inspection found that the Home Office acted upon the recommendations made by the ICIBI Heathrow Airport inspection, conducted in 2014. Some issues identified in the previous inspection, however, still persist. More should be done to enforce the law, without exceptions, on passengers carrying undeclared alcohol or tobacco goods in excess of their duty free allowance. Border Force also failed to maintain records in relation to searches of passengers.

Mr Bolt said: “I am pleased that standards in Border Force’s operations raised as a result of the recommendations this inspectorate made in 2014. But some areas require further attention and senior managers will need to do more to achieve the necessary improvements. “

Notes to editors

  1. The report published today examines what progress were made on the six recommendations made in the ICIBI Heathrow Airport inspection report, published in 2015.
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  2. The 2015 report made six recommendations for improvement to the Home Office:
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    – To maintain accurate records for every passenger in detention.
    – To ensure all searches of persons are conducted according to guidance.
    – To inform all passengers on their right to appeal prior to a search.
    – To provide consistent guidance across all staff on how to produce and keep notes for the searches conducted by staff.
    – To ensure all notes relating to passenger searches are stored according to guidance.
    – To consistently enforce the law when passengers attempt to enter the UK with a quantity of goods that exceed the allowance.
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  3. The re-inspection of Border Force operation at Heathrow Airport was conducted in May 2016 and it was submitted to the Home Secretary on Monday 18 July 2016
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  4. The ICIBI committed to re-inspect where the Home Office has accepted recommendations from previous reports to examine what has been done. The Heathrow Airport report published today is the first of this kind
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  5. The Home Office response to the Heathrow Airport re-inspection report.
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