Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annexes 28 and 29



  The Immigration Service has officers seconded to work with the National Criminal Intelligence Service at its headquarters in Vauxhall and elsewhere, contributing a major commitment to their role in combating organised crime. The establishment of an Organised Immigration Crime Section (OICS) at NCIS in September 1997 was largely due to the Initiative of the Immigration Service. OICS combines police and IS personnel and resources to target people smuggling and reflects the growing extent of this problem. There are five immigration officers and one assistant immigration officer working in London and part-time assistance is given at NCIS SW in Bristol. A Chief Immigration Officer oversees their work. There are no legal restrictions on the exchange of information on immigration matters; indeed a legal gateway was created by the Immigration and Asylum Act, 1999. Concerns on the handling of information from NCIS from an ECHR perspective are being dealt with by means of a Code of Practice[7]. Consideration is currently being given to extending IS attachment across NCIS and to other significant locations in the Police service eg National Crime Squads (NCS) and to specialist units within the Metropolitan Police.

  Examples of joint working with NCIS

(i)  Benefits

  The Immigration Service has benefited from working under the NCIS umbrella in a number of ways. It has been able to learn from their experience and expertise, particularly valuable when mounting complex multi-faceted operations resulting in difficult prosecution issues (Public Interest Immunity and "sanitisation" for example). Involvement in NCIS has given the IS the right contacts, both in the national and international arena, and has served to raise the profile of illegal immigration and associated crime as well as access to their analytical support, training and IT. From their perspective, an increased presence within NCIS has demonstrated to other law enforcement agencies the commitment, knowledge and ability of the Immigration Service and has contributed to its being seen as a serious player in the fight against organised (immigration) crime.

(ii)  Operations

  The main aim of the work at NCIS is to target the main racketeers involved in the facilitation of illegal entry and associated crimes. Several successful operations have taken place. One, which took two years to mount and was concluded in early 1999, is a very good example of co-operation between NCIS, Europol, SIS, FCO, Customs, New Scotland Yard (Organised Crime Group), Inland Revenue, Benefits Agency, Crown Prosecution Service as well as colleagues in Germany, Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic. It resulted in the conviction of the main racketeer in the UK, arrests in Germany, Poland and Ukraine and led to the disruption of the network. It also attracted significant media attention.

  Working with the Organised Crime Group at New Scotland Yard has enabled the Immigration Service to enjoy considerable success in securing convictions of major Chinese facilitators involved in the kidnapping and extortion of those they had brought illegally to the UK.

(iii)  Liaison

  Work at NCIS also involves liaison with a variety of interested units and agencies, both within NCIS and without, both national and international.

  The Immigration Officer based in the International Division at NCIS is co-located with a number of overseas liaison officers (usually seconded from foreign police services).

  OICS processes and deals with immigration-related commissions rogatoires emanating from our colleagues abroad, and works closely with Europol and Interpol.

(iv)  Costs to the Immigration Service

  No charges are made by NCIS. The Immigration Service pays for its staff, NCIS provides accommodation, IT and importantly, training (intelligence and analysis, IT courses). The officer seconded to the International Division is provided with a mobile phone and the officer at NCIS SE has the use of a car. In addition, NCIS pays travel and accommodation expenses when IS staff are required to attend national or international meetings on immigration matters.

Benefits Agency

  The Benefits Agency has officers working in several immigration offices around the country, primarily in enforcement offices. The lines of communication are good with immigration staff able to exchange relevant information easily based on a Memorandum of Understanding. There have been many examples of joint enforcement operations.


  The Immigration Service has a liaison officer based at the headquarters of the French border police in Paris. He is able to exchange information with the French authorities and other Liaison Officers based there from Germany, Italy, Spain and Holland. This officer works closely on joint Anglo-French operations providing an invaluable link between the two authorities. As an example, acting on information from here and with a French operational team the liaison recently led to the interception of substantial numbers of people heading for the UK concealed in freight trains.


  Set up in January 1994, Europol's mandate was initially concerned with combating drug trafficking and associated money laundering. This expanded to include illegal immigration (in 1995) and trafficking in human beings (in 1996). The Europol Treaty was ratified in 1998 and became operational from July 1999. The Chief Immigration Officer at NCIS is closely involved with Europol and, at the end of 1999, succeeded in persuading Europol to take on a major Chinese project to identify and target common EU links in Chinese smuggling networks.


  Interpol traditionally eschewed immigration issues but has sought to come on board from about mid-1999. The NCIS CIO liaises closely with Interpol but the work has the potential to overlap with that of Europol and create some tensions between the two agencies. Routine immigration enquiries from Interpol are handled by OICS.


  INDIS has established effective and constructive relations with many EU border and Eastern European agencies. Particular attention is paid to developing relations with countries on the routes used by the smugglers. There may be some difficulties under Human Rights Legislation over the exchange of information with countries outside the EU. INDIS has particularly close contacts with the authorities of the United States, Canada and Australia. It is also represented at the Centre for Information, Discussion and Exchange on the Crossing of Frontiers and Immigration (CIREFI) and the Inter-Governmental Consultations of Asylum, Refugee and Migration Policies in Europe, North America and Australia (IGC). The head of INDIS represents the United Kingdom at meetings of the G8 Senior Experts on Migrant Smuggling and Trafficking.


  Fraudulent use of travel documents and subsequent identity fraud is a growing cause of concern for many UK Government Agencies, in addition to the Immigration Service. The National Forgery Section (NFS) has long established liaison contacts with the United Kingdom Passport Agency (in respect of development and security of the UK passport), the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (in respect and of passport and visa security and forgery detection training for entry clearance staff), Customs (in respect of suspect travel documents held by smugglers and suspect travel documents detected as a result of routine customs examination of international mail and courier packages), and the police (in respect of persons arrested in possession of suspect travel documents). In addition, the NFS has developed close liaison and operational contacts with a number of other UK Government Agencies by bilateral contacts and through membership (as representative of IND) of the Interdepartmental Identify Fraud Forum (a multi-agency group chaired by the DSS, which seeks to increase co-operation between departments to reduce identity abuse and to raise identity checking standards and the standards of identity documents issued by various Government Departments). This has led to a close working liaison most especially with the DVLA and the DSS resulting in the detection of fraudulent driving licence applications or benefit claims by holders of foreign travel documents, many of whom are then also identified as illegal immigrants.

  The liaison described between Departments is conducted with due consideration to Data Protection legislation and, in respect of certain Departments (Customs, for example) has been developed by the provision of information sharing gateways under the 1999 Immigration and Asylum Act.

  The threat to immigration controls posed by travel document fraud is an international problem. The UK participates in international fora (in particular through EU working parties or initiatives) with the control and passport or visa issuing authorities of other countries. This is with the aim of encouraging increased standards internationally of document security and issue as well as of false document detection at border controls (through training, use of forgery detection equipment and exchange of intelligence on travel documents and their abuse). The UK is also an active participant at international organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Technical Advisory Group on Machine Readable Travel Documents, which develops international standards for machine readability of travel documents, as well as making recommendations for document security and the introduction of new technology security features, such as biometric identifiers. International liaison and co-operation is an essential element in combating and reducing the level of travel document abuse at the UK immigration control.

  The NFS maintains close liaison contact both in the UK and internationally with manufacturers of travel documents, travel document security feature manufacturers and manufacturers of forgery detection equipment. This valued two-way liaison enables the NFS (and, as a result, officers at the immigration control) to influence and possess details of development of new travel document security features to combat fraud. It also enables UK immigration officers at the control to be aware of, and provided with, the most up to date and relevant forgery detection equipment and also equipment for checking both machine readable travel documents and the most sophisticated of document security features.

7   A consequence of the implementation of the Human Rights Act on 2 October 2000 will be to oblige all agencies to introduce tighter working procedures in areas such as: justification for selection of targets, quality controls and authorisation levels, the recording and dissemination of intelligence. The ACPO Codes of Practice were introduced at the end of 1999 and indicate what changes will be required (based on these Codes, NCIS became ECHR-compliant on 1 March this year). The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill, dealing with covert matters, will affect the IS/IND in respect of surveillance and our handling of informants. Back

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