Britain’s border agency to split after security row

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, February 20, 2012 16:45 EDT
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British Home Secretary Theresa May via AFP
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LONDON — Britain’s border agency will split into two following a row over security lapses which let hundreds of thousands of people into the country without proper checks, the interior minister said Monday.

Home Secretary Theresa May took the step after an official report produced by John Vine, UK Border Agency’s independent chief inspector, found around 500,000 Eurostar passengers arrived in Britain without being checked against a terrorism index.

“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,” May said Monday.

Vine found that Eurostar passengers boarding the train in Paris bypassed the warnings index of suspected terrorists and that border checks had been suspended regularly since 2007.

From March, “the UK border force will be split from UKBA and will become a separate operational command, with its own ethos of law enforcement, led by its own director general,” May announced.

“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,” she added.

“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.”

Former border chief Brodie Clark quit in November over claims he relaxed the passport checks without authorisation. Wiltshire Police chief Brian Moore will take up the post.

Vine’s report also found that the system for checking the fingerprints of foreign nationals who require a visa to visit Britain were suspended nearly 500 times without approval.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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