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71% of passenger searches at Gatwick Airport ‘unjustified’ report says | Immigration Matters

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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.

Have you been searched at a UK Airport?

Is your immigration application taking longer than expected?

Have you beed refused unfairly?

Please add your comments below.

See also:

Yellow or Blue Card Refused – Appeal or Reapply?

UK border staff stage 24-hour strike at London Heathrow Airport

UK Border Force staff cut but more officers deployed at Heathrow

UK faces fine from EU over immigration and free movement restrictions on Eastern Europeans

Romanian EU migrants head for London jobs ahead of Olympics

London Olympic motto unveiled as 100-day countdown begins

How Romanians and Bulgarians working illegally without Yellow Card or papers can legalise their status in the UK

EU Commissioner calls for end to UK work restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians

Is Heathrow Border Force ready for Olympics?

If you need any immigration advice or help with Sponsorship or Work Permits, Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, dependant visa or an appeal against a refusal please email: or visit 

Majestic College offer special packages for EU students. They also have a number of employers looking for staff right now and are willing to employ Bulgarians and Romanians. 

For more information call Joanna on 0208 207 1020 or email


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4 Responses to “71% of passenger searches at Gatwick Airport ‘unjustified’ report says”
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  1. […] 71% of passenger searches at Gatwick Airport ‘unjustified’ report says […]

  2. […] 71% of passenger searches at Gatwick Airport ‘unjustified’ report says […]

  3. Janet Buchanan says :

    I was coming from Jamaica on April 3th I was search they even go through my papers. I was surprise that as much as I am a British citizen I were ask when I was going back I taught I could stay as long as I want I didnt gave up my rights to this country so I dont know what that is for they even took some of my information. While in Jamaica I took my niece to the Amercian embassy they also saw the Recipt and ask where did I get so much money to spend.Hello some people do work please stop stereotyping people I work very hard for what I want Is not everything look bad is bad.

  4. […] 71% of passenger searches at Gatwick Airport ‘unjustified’ report says […]

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