Heathrow queues: Border Force 'ready' for Olympics


Brian Moore, head of the UK Border Force, defended his staff's actions

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The UK Border Force says it is "fully prepared to manage busy periods" such as the Olympics despite criticism over recent delays at Heathrow Airport.

Border Force chief Brian Moore said security would not be compromised but staff would be "implementing our well-rehearsed plans" in July and August.

MPs have said the UK's image was being tarnished and called on Immigration Minister Damian Green to explain.

Non-EU passengers have spoken of three-hour queues at Heathrow Terminal 5.

The longest delays were reportedly seen at passport control on Wednesday, but queues have also been seen over the past month, with some UK and other European Economic Area passengers said to have experienced waits of up to an hour - more than double the 25-minute "service standards" target set by the Home Office.

In March, following revelations that hundreds of thousands of people were let into the country without appropriate checks, the home secretary announced that the UK Border Force would be split away from the UK Border Agency and become a separate entity.

But Lucy Moreton from the Immigration Services Union said there were now too few staff on duty.

"There simply is no way to deliver the 100% secure border that we are required to deliver with the number of staff we have left," she said.

Mr Moore told the BBC News Channel the Border Force aimed to keep disruption to a minimum but "would not compromise on the safety and security of the UK".

"Overwhelmingly we are doing a good job on balancing getting people through whilst making sure the border remains secure," he said.

Mr Moore said: "The vast majority of passengers pass through immigration control quickly.

Passenger Leo Lourdes said Friday's queue was the longest queue he had ever seen

"Queues are caused by a number of factors, including incorrect flight manifests or early or late planes which result in bunching.

"The important factor is to have staff that are flexibly deployed in the right numbers at the right times and this is what we always try to do."

MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee say they plan to question the immigration minister about the issues in May.

Committee chairman Mr Vaz said: "If you arrive at Heathrow and you see half the kiosks empty and you are waiting for three hours, that's simply not acceptable."

Earlier, the Labour MP told BBC Radio 4's Today programme, a "real problem" of delays at immigration controls had emerged in recent months.

"I'm not saying we should abandon checks, but it's a choice for the government - you either look at the way you deal with people when they arrive at Heathrow or you recruit more staff.

"This is not just about the Olympics, this is about what happens before and after, it's about Heathrow as a world-class airport and it's about our reputation, and we need to make sure we get it sorted."

Keith Vaz MP: "This needs to be dealt with here and now, not in July"

BAA said queues at Heathrow Airport passport control on Friday evening cleared by the morning.

But it has called on the Home Office to "address the problem as a matter of urgency" and has described the queuing seen at airport immigration control as "unacceptable".

A BAA spokeswoman said: "There isn't a trade-off between strong border security and a good passenger experience. The Home Office should be delivering both."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 551.

    get real people
    they are guest waiting for an invite into our country
    if they didn't want to be here they wouldn't come here.
    so if they have to wait a few hours
    well then it will be worth it for them.
    and on the plus side the border agency have a better chance of stopping undesirables and illegals,
    which is all good imho
    the fewer the better

  • rate this

    Comment number 550.

    The Ministry of Defence says it is still evaluating sites to place surface-to-air missiles for the Olympic Games, and is considering placing them at residential flats.


    The sooner this pile of nonsense is over the better

    Presumably there will also be nuclear submarines slipping about under the Thames as well...

    Let it be over soon please... please

  • rate this

    Comment number 549.

    I'm sure the public would be reassured to know that UKBA have gone into a state of panic, and have realised that they don't have enough staff. They have taken staff from anywhere & everywhere, have given them 1-2 days training (compared to 5-6 weeks for an Immigration Officer) and have deemed these people fit to man the UK border over the summer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    A separate 'Terrorists and undesirables' lane would solve all these problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    Less to do with staffing levels than unions working to rule. This border force circus is still a closed shop. They are deliberately making life difficult for their own selfish purposes. I recently arrived at Folkestone on a Sunday morning at 0315 on a coach from Europe, using the Channel Tunnel. It was deserted apart from our bus. No fewer then EIGHT of them turned out. Spanish practices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    544.Steve Lynham

    'I would not be surprised to find out that UKBA staff are trained using a Manual obtained in Germany and printed in the 1930s to mid 1940s. They seem to want to make people's lives a misery.'

    I suspect that they're pretty miserable themselves, what with the cuts and their pay and pensions being attacked constantly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    540. White Englishman
    I know how you feel, I knew my parents (Mohamed & Rossita). My Grandparents (Kamwe, Jacques, Eva & Blossom) and my Great Grand Parent (Hymmie)

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    Many UK citizens here complain about how they are treated; well, most foreigners are nice people also and are generally treated very badly by various branches of UKBA. I would not be surprised to find out that UKBA staff are trained using a Manual obtained in Germany and printed in the 1930s to mid 1940s. They seem to want to make people's lives a misery. And, btw, I am a UK citizen.

  • Comment number 543.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    536. GhostOfEnoch
    It's a bit late to be out Trolling isn't it.
    At least I hope your a troll.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    536. GhostOfEnoch

    'The only pro multicultural types are middle/upper class liberals who live in all white areas.'

    I would say that I'm socially liberal and I live on a council estate and am working class.

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.

    I always think Cattle are treated better than me, when entering my own country.
    I knew my parents (both of them) my grandparents (all 4 of them) and even a great grandparent, yet I still feel like I’m being checked into my country by foreigners, and usually ones with no manners.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    Removed my comment because it criticised Theresa May - shame on you CONDem BBC......

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    532. Alan Robinson-Orr
    Stewie Griffin's teddy bear, right?
    I wouldn't know, I don't watch BBC 3

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.


    'I waited over two and a half hours on Thursday night. They had only one passport control desk open for well over 1000 people! People who arrived after me must have waited much longer! ONE officer! That is pure negligence!'

    That is pure austerity.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    Oh yawn yawn yawn. The border force will always be a joke in this country until a proper nationalist government like the BNP get in. I give it 20-30 years max, more and more people are waking up every day to the multicultural disaster and the lies of lib/lab/con who are only in it for themselves.

    The only pro multicultural types are middle/upper class liberals who live in all white areas.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    I spent 30 years travelling the world on business and the only three countries where I regularly spent more than 30 minutes queuing at airport immigration were USA, Japan and UK. AND I am a British citizen !
    Foreign passport holders entering UK have my sympathy. Especially at Heathrow.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    From the reports of people we actually trust (ie, unbiased but frustrated travelers - and not the BBC) this comes down to one issue - staffing.
    I think most understand that there could be plenty more people there providing this service, but they're not. It might be saving money to keep everyone waiting and only having 2 or 3 people working, but how much are we losing out in bad publicity?

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    If it did not take UKBA over a year to issue Visas (and mean those which are correct applications, not incorrect ones) when they state that it takes 20 to 90 minutes to actually make the decision then I could sympathise a little with their plight at Border Control ... but they seem incompetent at EVERYTHING they do.
    Why does the UK have to be useless at everything? Whatever government we have.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    527. Name Number 6

    As Rupert's anointed representative on earth (according to some), I can assure you that you can't believe the date in that rag.

    Stewie Griffin's teddy bear, right?


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