Theresa May to split up UK Border Agency


Theresa May says the UK Border Force will be "accountable directly to ministers"

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Home Secretary Theresa May has said the UK Border Agency will be split in two following revelations that hundreds of thousands of people were let into the country without appropriate checks.

She told MPs the UK Border Force would become a separate law-enforcement body with its own distinctive "ethos".

Mrs May said officials had abandoned rules and gone further than ministers had recommended in relaxing checks.

Wiltshire Chief Constable Brian Moore will lead the new border force.

His predecessor, Brodie Clark, was suspended and then resigned, saying his position was untenable, after claims he had relaxed checks beyond what had been authorised by ministers.

The UK Border Agency was set up in 2008 following Labour Home Secretary John Reid's 2006 declaration that the Home Office's immigration directorate was "not fit for purpose".

It is responsible for securing the UK border at air, rail and sea ports and migration controls, such as the issuing of visas.

Its work was previously carried out by the Border and Immigration Agency, HM Revenue and Customs at the border and the Foreign Office.

Under the new arrangements, immigration policy work will be separated from operational duties.

The UK Border Force, the section of the UKBA that manages entry to the UK will become a separate entity. In addition, from next year the new National Crime Agency will be charged with improving intelligence capability at borders and investigating serious and organised border crime.

'New culture'

Mrs May made a statement to MPs on an investigation into the agency carried out by John Vine, the independent chief inspector of the UKBA.


Opinion polls regularly suggest immigration ranks highly among people's top political issues. One person's idea of handling it well will, of course, differ from the next person's.

The perception of a home secretary not knowing what's been going on is very damaging. So, like the Labour government before her, Theresa May has responded to these latest revelations with a demand for structural change within the civil service.

Back in 2006, her predecessor John, now Lord, Reid, described the immigration system as "not fit for purpose" and possessing "inadequate" leadership.

The changes led to the creation of the UK Border Agency, which itself will now be split in two.

Most accept the management of our borders has to be risk-based. On average, a bus load of pensioners returning home from a holiday on the Algarve is likely to pose less danger than a flight arriving from Yemen.

Equally, there is an acceptance from many that the implementation of the Home Office's ideas has to be led by those civil servants actually at the border.

But mistakes will always rebound on an incumbent secretary of state. Immigration is just one of many issues that make being home secretary one of the toughest gigs in government.

She said officials had exceeded their remit on several occasions, under the current government and its Labour predecessor.

Among the findings:

  • Security checks had been suspended regularly and applied inconsistently since at least 2007
  • Checks against the Home Office Warnings Index were not carried out on about 500,000 European Economic Area nationals travelling to the UK on Eurostar services from France
  • An operation was carried out at Heathrow Airport in which students from supposedly low-risk countries were allowed to enter the UK even when they did not have the necessary entry clearance
  • Secure ID checks were suspended 482 times between June 2010 and November 2011, including 463 times at Heathrow
  • Between January and June 2011, prior to the introduction of a pilot which relaxed border checks in specific situations, "the biometric chip reading facility had been deactivated on 14,812 occasions at a number of ports"

Mrs May said: "The Vine report reveals a Border Force that suspended important checks without permission; that spent millions on new technologies but chose not to use them; that was led by managers who did not communicate with their staff; and that sent reports to ministers that were inaccurate, unbalanced and excluded key information.

"The Vine report makes a series of recommendations about how to improve the operation at the border, and I accept them all."

Mrs May added: "I do not believe the answer to the very significant problems exposed in the Vine Report is just a series of management changes.

"The Border Force needs a whole new management culture. There is no getting away from the fact that UKBA, of which the Border Force is part, has been a troubled organisation since it was founded in 2008.

"From foreign national prisoners to the asylum backlog to the removal of illegal immigrants, it has reacted to a series of problems instead of positively managing its responsibilities."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper: "Language from the home secretary's own private office was not clear"

On the splitting up of UKBA, Mrs May said that "the extent of the transformational change required - in the agency's caseworking functions and in the Border Force - is too great for one organisation".

The Border Force would "become a separate operational command, with its own ethos of law enforcement, led by its own director general, and accountable directly to ministers", she added.

For Labour, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Mrs May: "It is time for you to stop hiding and to take responsibility for things that have happened on your watch, for the unclear instructions from your office, for the policy decision to downgrade border controls, for the failure to monitor and check what was going on, and the for the failure to take responsibility now.

"This mess got worse and escalated on your watch, every month that went by. Unless you accept responsibility for it, you will fail to sort it out and you will also fail to reassure us that you can cope with future fiascos, and that you as home secretary can keep our borders secure."

The UK Border Agency will be split up at the beginning of next month.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    This is going back to when we had HMC and Immigration Departments which were removed in favour of a Border Agency

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    To 148 - VFS only take in visa applications and do not make decisions on them so how are they doing UKBA work? They are only taking the queues away from overseas visa posts and helping people with their queries about applications, That lets UKBA officials process more visa applications than wasting time on taking in an application.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    124 - sannu(whatever) Your opinion is just that, yours - most of us do NOT agree that we are much better for having large percentages of foreigners forced on us. Oh, and BTW, I believe the term you were seeking is 'indigenous', *not* indigents, although many foreigners do avoid indigence ONLY because of the UK welfare system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Will it have a U.S. style fingerprint, advance travel authority for arrivals from outside the E.U. and secure holding area where those refused admission can be returned on the same airline that brought them (At that airline's expense, thereby stimulating the airline to do a proper document check before allowing them to travel in the first place)?

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    I hope the BBS isn't upset again but I DO NOT BREACH HOUSERULES but in the country, you get away with murder, so why they want to protect this country from people, who may would harm the people off this country. it may because they are legally protected by their human rights and by Strassbourg, this is why, the UK Borders are weak ... uuupps, I hope I haven't upset someone x

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    119.stan howard wrote;
    Because they'd rather believe what's written by the Editor of the Daily Mail than read the govt. policy, or the reports on their desk, or take advice from the professionals they've been put in charge of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    Will this country will ever have a government again? Can't see one out there, can you? It is just vested interest spivs who have wangled their way into positions of power and money. Do your couple of years raking it in, then off to the boardroom to rake in even more. Right or left - makes no difference.
    And what do they leave behind? The rotten remains of what was once quite a good country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    So which half gets the bottom and which half gets the top of Theresa May?

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    I've read this report & realise that it omits a vital aspect - when new Ministers arrived in May 2010, what were they told about border controls & relaxations as part of their incoming briefing? It's inconceivable that they weren't told something about this - as it was an important election issue. Why wasn't this covered in the report? Why is "unclear drafting" allowed to let May off the hook?

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    I would like to know what will happen to previous Border Agency chiefs - this is not just down to Brodie Clarke who was only in post for a year.. One of his very recent predecessors (Lin Homer) has just moved (or is about to) to head the HMRC. Now there is another agency in deep trouble - what do you think the chances of her sorting that out are given her abject failure with HKBA in recent years?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Our prisons are full, our country is running out of money. We got our own home grown criminals to worry about, Strip all those, non uk born, involved in crime of their citizenships and ship them back home.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    I agree with Lemog, No.100 and similar comments.
    I think this is at the heart of the problem they are hell bent on replacing man by machine as you can see at heathrow.
    It is still disappointing to see the level of xenophobia that this topic unleashes in people.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    In previous days, such a damning report would have resulted in the resignation of the minister. So come on Mrs May , do the decent thing and resign.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    What went one under Theresa May's watch was a disgrace and she has no right to stay in her job. Anyone else would have been sacked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    listening to an interview with John Vine on PM, it seemed that the last thing he wanted to do was lay the blame at anyone's door. Oh no, that would never do would it - someone actually being accountable. It seems to me that we would be far better off to hire in someone to do the whole job, like Israel perhaps - and just sack the current administration including politicians and top civil servants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    The UK Border Agency another victory for the human rights brigade and their bleeding heart supporters...

    Introduce Visas so it's hard to come and live in this country as it is the USA or Australia. I don't mind how many immigrants we have as long as they are increasing the prosperity of the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    We need customs at the door of planes as immigrants tend to lose identification or identification held by air hostess with seat number not way out in halls as they disapear other countries have slack controls as they dont want them either. All those commiting any crime deported with family, not prison too costly. No amnesty for anyone regardless if they are here illegally then out no appeals

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    So much hate, So many false stats and facts being parrotted. So many people's opinion polluted and blacked by one man who dosen't even live here, and couldn't care less. Murdoch used you're fear to sell papers, fair enough you might say. But the fear and hate left behind continues to ripple on out across our nation. Very very sad and even more silly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    Oldblue - Landing cards? UKBA officers can't even ask simple questions without having to notebook it all in case it may interfer with someones human rights... Of course it works in other countries because they back up their border officers & give them the powers & tools to do the job and aren't confined by ministers in case they upset someone by asking why are you coming here or whats in your bags

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    Acording to Chris Grayling British workers working under this new scheam(scam) for no pay jobseekers plus travel will give them an edge over east European migrents working for j6.09 is this what our country has been reduced to


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