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
    +1

    Comment number 591.

    By accepting the idiotic "War on Tewwor" BS the public have brought this on themselves.
    The main source of 'terror' that I see worldwide are governments.
    Face it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 590.

    You know what, having been unable, though disinclined, to afford an airflight for decades I have an idea.
    Stop all but essential flights, scrap the olympics and save the rest of us a lot of grief.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 589.

    Re: 119. havadram
    >>>With the technology they have now I am surprised that a lot of these checks cannot be done at the point of departure. Any problem, you don't get on the plane.

    It's not a question of technology. That strategy would be based on the assumption that we trust the staff and procedures at ALL points of departure. There have been many examples of why that would be foolhardy.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 588.

    Why don't you take a look at the way the Australian immigration dept works.

    Open your eyes and learn something

    The Australians dont mess about! Son't forget Australia is a commonwealth country too!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 587.

    They will need to be, although any potential terrorists will have been in the UK for some time. It is absolutely correct that the UK have the most rigorous and stringent entry checks. Certainly the profiling of entrants to the UK is a method to be adopted. The trouble is the racist do gooders will be objecting. Don't listen to them.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 586.

    OK. Please educate Me!!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 585.

    Note comment 543 removed as it made negative remark about Olympics and IOC so lets try again. Not everyone wants games in which UK and London taxpayers are subsidising corporations like macdonalds and coke who call the shots and get most of the tickets, whilst the athletes who really count get very little and the joe soap tax payers get none. But of course the bbc have tv rights.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 584.

    Well it looks like Osama won. Standing the queue and seeing the “Great” posters above the border agents desks, well nothing “Great” about Britain while standing in that queue, in fact it is insulting. But your country, your rules; but my time and money, France was far friendlier and pleasant. Cheers!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 583.

    Ways of working that provided a decent level of service for years by the Immigration Service, have also been wiped away to please those in power and take us towards a Border "police" Force. Sadly, Mr Moore is simply following the orders of the Home Sec. Alas it seems his promise to use his resources to prevent Q's seems to be harder to meet in reality!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 582.

    What if you are dying to go to the toilet while you are waiting in the line ahhahahahaha ahhahahahaha hohoho!!!

  • Comment number 581.

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

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 580.

    In any job, someone learning their trade takes an awful lot longer to carry out the same task. Staff could quite easily create Q's of extreme length if they really did work to rule, but this is not the case at present. It is just down to lack of (experienced) staff & a failure to deal with annual leave in a sensible way.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 579.

    The problem was caused by Gordon Brown to merging Customs & Immigration. The drive to create "jacks of all trades" & changes to T&C's led to the mass departure of large number of experienced officers. Officers that could deal with people quickly/efficiently & professionally.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 578.

    even god sayds the tories are immoral just a shame the BBC dont let us have our say because to them its not about freedom of speach but freedom to support the tories or have no rights at all.
    And all so their dg can get his gong just before the people kick all tories and their sell out lap dogs the liberals out of power

  • Comment number 577.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 576.

    Re 575 - wtfismynameabused
    You obviously have no understanding abt what happens when yr details are scanned. Don't believe it is only the UKBA looking at them. Its one of the reasons why scanning appears to take so long. Happens in quite a few countries these days.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 575.

    How long does it take to scan passport details!!?? These folks in BA are grossly overstating their effectiveness and importance. When I challenged the body on the desk last weekend she explained that the queues are a consequence of DC policies. TAKE YOUR INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE OFFLINE!!!
    Challenge them!!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 574.

    I now avoid Heathrow as my flight from Zurich takes an hour twenty and it takes an hour and half to get out of Heathrow.
    Somebody needs to bang some heads in the BA. the stressed traveller as a pawn in your industrial dispute!!!!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 573.

    I travel twice monthly Zurich-London and notice that the pain starts immediately on reaching London. Avoid Heathrow and Gatwick like the plague. Tried using Luton but again the idiots from BA make life a misery. IT'S DELIBERATE delaying tactics on their behalf.

  • Comment number 572.

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

 

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