Prime Minister David Cameron has been warned over a loophole in immigration which could potentially allow terrorists to enter the UK without having their passports checked.
The gap in security was noticed by Conservative MP for Harlow, Robert Halfon. He voiced his concerns during Prime Minister’s Questions.
Special branch officers and immigration officials have said that they are worried that extremists could be using the Common Area Travel Channel to slip past security. The way this typically happens is for a passenger to fly into London carrying a separate ticket for travel into the capital from another airport in Britain. This is then shown in the common area where officials rarely ask to see any other form of documentation.
Mr Halfon asked Mr Cameron if he was aware that special branch and immigration at Stansted were worried that the current common area was open to abuse from those entering the UK illegally as well as terrorists and extremists.
He added that the issue urgently needed to be addressed because the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympic games were just around the corner. Mr Cameron described Mr Halfon’s point as an important one. He said that he accepted that common areas were subject to abuse and that steps would be taken to resolve the issue.
Mr Cameron added that passport-free travel offered a number of social and economic benefits and that any tightening up of the rules should not impinge on those who use the Common Area Travel Channel in a legitimate way.
On a recent trip by car ferry to Dublin I noted that there were no passports checks on both legs of the journey.
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