Suspension of port operations
83 Protecting the border is a key priority for Government. In the event that Border Force resources are depleted due to covid-19 to such an extent that it creates a real and significant risk to border security, the Bill provides powers to ensure that arrivals can be directed to ports of arrival in the UK where there will be sufficient Border Force officers to carry out the necessary border security checks.
84 The proposed powers will allow the Secretary of State to direct a port operator (i.e. a person responsible for the management of a port) to suspend relevant operations, partially or wholly, in the event that there are insufficient resources to adequately secure the border. The power will also provide for the Secretary of State to issue supplementary directions to other parties if the Secretary of State considers it necessary in connection with the primary direction.
85 These powers will only be used where the Secretary of State believes that it is necessary and proportionate and once all relevant alternative mitigations have been exhausted. Use of the powers would be governed by strict safeguards to ensure that they are used fairly, responsibly and proportionately and with the appropriate level of authority. While responsibility for an initial direction may be made by senior Border Force officials on behalf of the Secretary of State, any decision to extend the period beyond 12 hours would be taken at ministerial level and subject to engagement with relevant government departments and devolved administrations.
86 Failure to comply with a port direction or supplementary direction without reasonable cause would constitute a criminal offence.