Posts Tagged ‘UK Border Agency’


[BBTN] Airports have warned of potential delays through immigration control on Wednesday (March 20) due to a strike by Border Force staff.

“Action will start with a 24-hour strike on budget day,” said the PCS.

“Action will start with a 24-hour strike on budget day,” said the PCS. Photo: Wikipedia

Employees, who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, are due to go on a 24-hour strike designed to coincide with tomorrow’s budget from chancellor George Osborne.

UK Border Agency said in a statement: “Our top priority is minimising disruption to our public-facing services and our public offices will remain open for business. We apologise for any disruption to services which result from this industrial action.”

Heathrow warned that arriving passengers “may experience some delays at immigration” but said it was not changing any flight schedules.

“The Home Office has assured us it has contingency plans in place to minimise any disruption caused by the strike,” said the airport. “We are operating a normal flight schedule and we are not advising passengers to change their plans.”

PCS workers around the UK are taking industrial action in protest at proposed cuts to pay, pensions and working conditions. The union said the timing of the strike was designed “to put maximum pressure on ministers who are refusing to talk to us”.

“Action will start with a 24-hour strike on budget day,” said the PCS. “When the chancellor stands up to deliver his budget we’ll be protesting across the UK.”

Stansted said its flights would be operating as normal but added they may be some delays at passport control.

UK Border Force has contingency plans in place and we will work with them to ensure any disruption to our passengers is kept to a minimum,” said the airport.

It was a similar message from Luton which advised incoming passengers to take a series of steps to ease any potential delays including the use of automatic e-Passport gates, having landing cards fully completed and staying in family groups.

For the latest updates on the strike from UKBA, CLICK HERE…..

Read the original story at Buying Business travel…..


Buying Business Travel
19th Mar, 2013



[Channel 4 News] Following the row over lengthy immigration queues, terminals at Heathrow and Gatwick come under fire for their use of searches at borders, with practices at one branded “discriminatory”.

Heathrow: Records showed 67 per cent of searches was neither justified nor proportionate.   Photo:  Wikipedia

Heathrow: Records showed 67 per cent of searches was neither justified nor proportionate. Photo: Wikipedia

Gatwick Airport North Terminal has been criticised for how it carries out passenger searches and uses arrest powers in a report published following a routine inspection last year.

The airport, which handles more than 30 million passenger journeys per year, was criticised in a report by the independent chief inspector of borders for “discriminatory practice in the conduct of detection activity”.

An examination of search records showed that in 71 per cent of cases, the search was neither justified nor proportionate. Some passengers were arrested even though searches had not revealed any illicit goods.

The inspection also revealed that an analysis of searches conducted over the last two years had revealed persistent differences in the ethnicities of passengers subject to searches, with some officers using negative stereotypes to determine which passengers to stop when detecting illicit goods.

The chief inspector, Jon Vine, said: “The extent of any discriminatory practices [at Gatwick] should be investigated and action taken to ensure officers understand and comply with the Agency’s duties under the Equality Act 2010.”

Emma Norton, legal officer for the human rights organisation Liberty, said that indiscriminate stops are counterproductive and harmful:

“The UKBA has enough on its plate with the Olympics looming without wasting time and money on checks which are as unnecessary as they are discriminatory. Border officials have a difficult and demanding job but the Inspector’s finding that 71 per cent of searches were unjustified is…..

Read the full story at Channel 4 News….


Channel 4 News
Thursday 10 May 2012



[Evening Standard] Extra passport staff were drafted into Heathrow today as passengers complained of continuing border delays at the airport.

UK Border Force officers had been flown in from Manchester in a bid to reduce the queues

UK Border Force officers had been flown in from Manchester in a bid to reduce the queues

Lucy Moreton, from the Immigration Services Union, said UK Border Force officers had been flown in from Manchester in a bid to reduce the queues which have seen passengers forced to wait for hours to enter the country. Downing Street today blamed the rain for some of the problems, saying that “severe weather conditions” had led to planes being delayed and queues building up.

But Steve Ridgway, the head of Virgin Atlantic, accused ministers of economic “madness”. He said the Government had cut border guard numbers without ensuring that adequate technology was available to replace them — and warned that ministers were jeopardising the country’s prosperity when Britain needed “everything it can get” from overseas business and tourism.

There were new reports of long queues today as passengers arriving from North America into Terminal 3 complained of large numbers of unmanned passport desks. Matthew Killick, 41 who flew in from Halifax, in Canada, said:

“There were not enough people checking passports. It was like……

 Read the full story at This is London…..


Martin Bentham
30 April 2012



[Belfast TelegraphHeathrow airport has been ordered by the Border Force to stop handing out  leaflets to passengers acknowledging the “very long delays” at immigration.

Marc Owen, director of UKBA told BAA that leaflets are "inappropriate" and that ministers would take "a very dim view".

Amid increasing anger at the length of queues for travellers arriving at  border control, airport operator BAA has tried to defuse tensions with a leaflet  apologising for the problems.

It said people arriving in the country “deserved a warmer welcome” and  explained how to complain to the Home Office.

But Marc Owen, director of UK Border Agency operations at Heathrow, has told  BAA that the leaflets are “inappropriate” and that ministers would take “a very  dim view”.

In an email obtained by The Daily Telegraph, he said: “The leaflet… is both inflammatory and likely to increase tensions in arrivals halls especially in the current atmosphere. It is inappropriate in that it is not for you to display how to complain on our behalf.

“Please refrain from handing out (the leaflets) or I will escalate (the  matter) with ministers who are likely to take a very dim view. I know there are copies in the hall and your troops are ready with them.”

Mr Owen also told BAA to prevent passengers taking pictures in the arrivals  hall. Pictures of lengthy queues have been posted on……

Read the full story at The Belfast Telegraph…..


Belfast Telegraph
28th April 2012



[Daily Mail] The police have been forced to step in as angry travellers, frustrated with long queues at Britain’s airports, have started rushing through passport control without showing their documents as passengers are regularly forced to wait 90 minutes

Police forced to step in as airport delay row worsens: Angry travellers are now storming through security without showing their passports: Flickr 'ukhomeoffice'

Police forced to step in as airport delay row worsens: Angry travellers are now storming through security without showing their passports: Flickr 'ukhomeoffice'

There have been a number of incidents in recent weeks, including a Spanish man who had to be restrained by counter-terrorism officers at Heathrow on Wednesday after bursting through security.The news follows reports passengers are forced to wait up to 90 minutes to clear passport control at Heathrow and increases pressure on Immigration Minister Damian Green to step in and address the problem.

Last month 20 passengers stormed through security at Birmingham Airport, angry  after waiting for two hours and police were deployed at Heathrow on Thursday after a group of fuming Americans began shouting at border staff.

A UK Border Agency source told the Sunday Times: ‘I have never before had so many complaints from passengers in one shift or faced such a hostile immigration control environment.’

Home secretary Theresa May is also underfire for reducing the manpower at borders.

She plans to cut the number of officers from…..

Read the full story from The Daily Mail…..


By Christopher Leake and Ian Garland
PUBLISHED: 29 April 2012



[FT] Damian Green, the immigration minister, has been summoned to explain a crisis  at border control to MPs after a spate of lengthy queues and increased waiting  times spread to Heathrow’s flagship terminal.

BAA “Immigration waiting times during peak periods at Heathrow recently have been unacceptable and we have called on the Home Office to address the problem as a matter of urgency.”

BAA “Immigration waiting times during peak periods at Heathrow recently have been unacceptable and we have called on the Home Office to address the problem as a matter of urgency.”

Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, told the Financial  Times that he had asked Mr Green to appear before the panel of MPs as reports of “chaos” at British airports gathered pace.

The delays are thought to have been caused by staffing cuts at the UK Border  Agency – which kicked in at the beginning of the new financial year – combined  with a Home Office ban on lighter passenger checks after a furore last summer in  which some border  officials relaxed security controls without ministerial permission.

“This is a very, very difficult state of affairs and it needs to be sorted  out quickly,” Mr Vaz said. “Either the [UK Border Force] needs to bring back  risk-based checks or it needs to hire more staff.”

The force is due to lose just under 20 per cent of its personnel by 2015 as  part of the government’s austerity drive.

Mr Green is scheduled to join officials from British Airways, Virgin Atlantic  and the British Airports Authority at a committee hearing in mid-May, where he  will be quizzed on what measures are in place to cut the……

Read the full article at Investors Chronicle….


By Helen Warrell,
Andrew Parker and George Parker
FT.com – 27th April 2012



Heathrow Airport may struggle to cope with extra passengers arriving during the London Olympics, MPs have warned.

"Not enough thought seemed to have been given to ways of coping with long queues at immigration"

"Not enough thought seemed to have been given to ways of coping with long queues at immigration"

Culture Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale said not enough thought seemed to have been given to ways of coping with long queues at immigration.

He said the UK Border Agency had suggested it had insufficient money to open all of its passport stations. The now separate Border Force said it was “well-prepared… with additional staff available for busy periods”. Mr Whittingdale outlined the committee’s concerns in a letter to Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

He said two members, Therese Coffey and Gerry Sutcliffe, had attended a briefing by Heathrow operator BAA and gathered that it saw the departure of large numbers of spectators and athletes at the end of the Games as the biggest challenge.

But Mr Whittingdale said the MPs “did not leave the briefing confident that Heathrow was ready to cope with the arrival of a huge number of competitors, Olympic family and visiting tourists in timely fashion”.

The letter went on: “We understand that significant preparations have been made to accommodate unusual sporting equipment, special lanes for the Olympic family, welcoming arrangements for competitors and additional Olympic ambassadors.

“However, far less thought seems to have been given to the issue of how to deal with long queues at immigration.

“The UKBA (UK Border Agency) representative suggested that there was insufficient funding to ensure all passport stations would be open.”

Mr Whittingdale continued: “While visiting tourists will understand that the Olympics is a busy time, if the wait (at immigration) is in excess of an hour it may deter tourists from returning.

Full story at BBC News….


BBC News
11 April 2012



Holidaymakers face months of prolonged delays getting back into the country because of a shortage of immigration officers and tighter checks, it has emerged.

Passengers face threat of long immigraion delays

Passengers face threat of long immigraion delays Photo: ALAMY

Already it is not uncommon for EU passengers to spend more than an hour to clear checkpoints staffed by the UK Border Agency. Their plight is likely to get worse as the summer unfolds, with the Immigration Service Union predicting that delays could reach three to four hours at busiest times, especially for those not carrying EU passports.

Earlier this month The Daily Telegraph disclosed that airports and airlines have warned the UK Border Agency of chaos because of staff shortages. According to the Immigration Service Union the chaos could begin over the summer, partly because the Agency’s fixed rostering system takes no account of passenger flows.

In addition the Home Office is planning to cut the size of the workforce at a time when stricter controls are being used.

The time taken to process passengers has already been lengthened by the introduction of scanning machines by the last Government which has added about 10 seconds to the time needed to screen every arrival

Read the full strory at Telegraph Travel….


By , Transport Editor
5:46PM BST 08 Apr 2012



Britain’s airports will be reduced to ‘gridlock’ this Easter because there are   not enough staff to carry out checks on passports, airlines have warned the   Home Secretary.

Airlines are warning of gridlock at Heathrow this weekend because of a shortage of border guards

Airlines are warning of gridlock at Heathrow this weekend because of a shortage of border guards Photo: Getty Images

Theresa May has been told by 11 airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, that the UK Border Agency does not have the resources to check the passports of everyone coming into Britain.

A separate memo sent by Virgin Atlantic to the home affairs select committee warns that long queues at passport control could leave passengers stranded on planes and put the operation of “entire airports at risk”.

Easter weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for the airports with more than 1.5 million holidaymakers expected to travel overseas. More than 370,000 passengers will leave Heathrow between Good Friday and Easter Monday while Gatwick will handle 200,000.

The Virgin Atlantic memo says: “If arriving passengers are unable to proceed efficiently through the UK border then the entire airport operation will be at risk. Passengers arriving late from passport control to collect their luggage will cause congestion in the baggage hall, delaying delivery of luggage from later flights.

“If there is no space in the immigration hall for any more arrivals then airlines will be forced to keep passengers aboard the aircraft, thus jeopardising the operation of subsequent flights.

Read the memo to Theresa May in full…….

The airlines are urging the Government to employ more border control staff or relax tough restrictions on immigration checks introduced after a scandal at the UK Border Agency last November. Brodie Clark, the head of the agency, resigned after Mrs May said he had relaxed checks without her permission. He was later given £100,000 compensation by the Home Office, with neither side admitting fault.

Full Telegraph Travel story here…..


By , Senior Political Correspondent
03 Apr 2012



Britain’s airports will be reduced to ‘gridlock’ this Easter because there are   not enough staff to carry out checks on passports, airlines have warned the   Home Secretary.

Airlines are warning of gridlock at Heathrow this weekend because of a shortage of border guards

Airlines are warning of gridlock at Heathrow this weekend because of a shortage of border guards Photo: Getty Images

Theresa May has been told by 11 airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, that the UK Border Agency does not have the resources to check the passports of everyone coming into Britain.

A separate memo sent by Virgin Atlantic to the home affairs select committee warns that long queues at passport control could leave passengers stranded on planes and put the operation of “entire airports at risk”.

Easter weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for the airports with more than 1.5 million holidaymakers expected to travel overseas. More than 370,000 passengers will leave Heathrow between Good Friday and Easter Monday while Gatwick will handle 200,000.

The Virgin Atlantic memo says: “If arriving passengers are unable to proceed efficiently through the UK border then the entire airport operation will be at risk. Passengers arriving late from passport control to collect their luggage will cause congestion in the baggage hall, delaying delivery of luggage from later flights.

“If there is no space in the immigration hall for any more arrivals then airlines will be forced to keep passengers aboard the aircraft, thus jeopardising the operation of subsequent flights.

Read the memo to Theresa May in full…….

The airlines are urging the Government to employ more border control staff or relax tough restrictions on immigration checks introduced after a scandal at the UK Border Agency last November. Brodie Clark, the head of the agency, resigned after Mrs May said he had relaxed checks without her permission. He was later given £100,000 compensation by the Home Office, with neither side admitting fault.

Full Telegraph Travel story here…..

 


By , Senior Political Correspondent
03 Apr 2012