46. The number of illegal entrants to the country demonstrates
that border controls are not as effective as they should be. The
Home Office evidence emphasised changes which are in the pipeline
and which they hope will make a significant difference in the
near future. These improvements flow from new legislation and
additional resources. For example:
- extension of carriers' liability to vehicles at Dover in April
2000 and the rest of the country in July 2000
- greater use of embarkation controls in country of departure
(known as juxtaposed controls)
- greater flexibility about immigration controls on arrival
enabling staff resources to be concentrated on points
of highest risk
- substantial new recruitment of staff.
47. The fact that the sea acts as a barrier on all sides of
the UK (except the land border with the Republic of Ireland) does
not mean that controls are exercised just on UK soil. In recent
years it has become apparent that the most effective controls
can be applied at the point of embarkation abroad. Thus there
are now UK immigration controls on French soil at the Coquelles
entry to the Channel Tunnel and a similar arrangement has been
agreed to operate at the Gare du Nord railway station in Paris.
Equally some 20 airline liaison officers are posted abroad to
train airline staff in checking documents to reduce the number
of illegal immigrants boarding planes destined for the UK. Checking
of containers would be much easier if the UK border agencies were
able to examine details of the contents in advance of arrival
and a picture taken at the point of departure.
|"The police experience in recent years has been that in spite of the combined efforts of the three border agencies in their respective roles, the effectiveness of our border controls and, therefore, the deterrent effect of them, has diminished" Association of Chief Police Officers evidence, Appendix 6, para 9
48. The Home Secretary told us that a further agreement has
been made with France - an additional protocol to the Sangatte
Treaty of 1992 covering the operation of the Channel Tunnel -
which needs to be ratified and legislated for (in France) before
coming into effect in the summer of 2001. The Additional Protocol
has been drawn to our attention by the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office under the new arrangements for parliamentary consideration
of treaties recommended by the Procedure Committee.
The Home Office told us:
"What we have done is to work hard with the
French who have delivered a good deal, although not enough, to
close up the route pending the arrival of the juxtaposed controls.
They are exercising some checks at the Gare du Nord. Those checks
are partially, but by no means wholly, effective. We are continuing
discussions with the French. We hope that before long there will
be a formal exchange of letters which will reinforce what they
are doing in the period before juxtaposed controls come and deal
with the issue finally. So by no means is it satisfactory, but
... it would be a great deal worse were the French not now being
as active as they are when conducting the checks which are already
in place, which are checks at the expense of the French Government,
to no purpose of the French Government but in a spirit of co-operation
with ourselves".(Mr Boys Smith)
49. In December 2000 a new set of checks were
introduced at Calais for vehicles boarding P&O Stena line
ferries for Dover. All lorries and cars were being checked by
a private security firm paid for by the ferry company at a reported
cost of £500,000 a year. Within the first month, more than
300 potential illegal immigrants were found in lorries and removed
before they left France. A further 200 or more foot passengers
with inadequate documents were prevented from boarding ferries.
In most cases they will have returned to the Red Cross centre
nearby at Sangatte. From there they will in all probability try
again to cross the Channel. The Freight Transport Association
has been seeking greater security at Calais for lorries waiting
to cross to Dover.
We were also told how the authorities at Calais were planning
to strengthen the perimeter security at the port, but we have
not yet seen evidence that this has happened.
50. It is too early to judge the long-term effects
of this tightening of controls in France. It does show, however,
that lorries waiting to embark can be searched without disrupting
traffic in a way which they cannot as they disembark and want
to head for their destination. It is inevitable that tightening
controls at one point will displace the traffickers to other routes
so the same problem will arise at other border crossings or ports.
For that reason the extension of P&O Stena Line's controls
to Zeebrugge is welcome.
51. We welcome the new emphasis being placed
on advanced controls at the point of departure to the UK and recommend
that the Government should take immediate steps to establish
such controls abroad.
52. We welcome the increased cooperation between
the UK government and the French authorities on measures to combat
clandestine entrants but further measures will need to be taken
to make this more effective.