An independent Borders and Immigration inspection report has raised concerns about the effectiveness of detection operations at Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal the BBC reports this week.
Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration found 71% of passenger searches, including strip searches, were unjustified.
Some of the travellers searched were arrested despite searches not revealing any illicit goods.
White passengers were also routinely stopped and searched to ensure the right racial “mix”, it said.
The report found customs staff selected white passengers to balance the numbers against other ethnic minorities they suspected to help avoid race discrimination complaints, particularly on flights arriving from the Caribbean.
John Vine, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, also found that one in seven people allowed into the UK on temporary visas either did not comply with the conditions imposed or absconded.
However, he said at the time of inspection a number of things were working well, such as “soundly based decisions to refuse entry to the UK, 100% passport swiping against the Home Office Warnings Index and good joint working with stakeholders”.
But he said searches in a high percentage of the cases sampled were found to be “neither justified nor proportionate”.
“I was also very concerned to learn of discriminatory practice in the conduct of detection activity,” Mr Vine said.
“The extent of any discriminatory practices should be investigated and action taken to ensure officers understand and comply with the agency’s duties under the Equality Act 2010.
“Finally, the agency should find out why one in seven people temporarily admitted to the UK from Gatwick North did not comply with the conditions imposed or absconded altogether.”
The immigration minister, Damian Green, admitted there had been problems but said the government was working hard to ensure things improved. Source: BBC.
This week London’s flagship Heathrow Airport saw further delays at immigration points when two trade unions, whose members are responsible for border checks, staged a 24 hour strike.
Thousands of members the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) will leave their posts at midnight – or not turn up for work. Union leaders are blaming the delays experienced at UK airports on government cuts and staff reductions throughout the UK Border Agency.
Staff shortages – a result of the merger of customs and immigration services two years ago, as well as public-sector job cuts – have been blamed as a key cause of the long wait-times.
Processing delays are also being experienced by migrant groups applying for visa extensions, Indefinite Leave to Remain and UK Naturalisation or British Citizenship.
Yellow Card applications for Bulgarians and Romanians are taking up to six months on postal applications. A year ago it took 3 to 4 weeks to obtain a yellow card to study and work in the UK.
Immigration Advisers are also seeing an upsurge in immigration and visa appeal cases as more refusals are dished out for cases which, they say, in the past would not have been refused.
Cynthia Barker, of OISC registered advisers Bison Management said they are ‘busier than ever’ with appeal cases:
‘We have seen more and more clients in the last six months who wish to appeal against refusals by the UK Border Agency or British Embassy visa sections.
‘Bison has recently won a number of appeals including cases on human rights grounds.
‘But the work doesn’t stop once the appeal has been granted. Getting the UKBA or British Embassy to issue the visa is proving more difficult than ever!’
Cynthia added that even Bulgarians and Romanians are forced to go to appeal at the First Tier Tribunal to obtain their yellow card and exercise their treaty rights.
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