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Select Committee on Home Affairs Additional Written Evidence


17.  Fourth supplementary memorandum submitted by the Immigration and Nationality Directorate, Home Office

ABUSE OF BORDER CONTROLS AT UK AIRPORTS BY INADEQUATELY DOCUMENTED ARRIVALS, AND THEIR INTERDICTION OVERSEAS

  The strategic aim for Border Control is to maintain secure borders by preventing abuse of immigration controls at the UK airports and seaports and at the juxtaposed locations. We have a supporting policy of interdictions overseas, whereby potential illegal migrants are prevented from travelling to the UK and illegal migration routes are disrupted. Border Control works closely with control authority partners, UKvisas, the aviation and maritime industries and port operators. There are currently almost 4,000 Border Control staff, stationed at ports and outstations around the country.

LEGISLATION

The main powers to enable the Immigration Service to carry out its functions are set out in Schedule 2 of the Immigration Act 1971. These include powers to examine any person who arrives in the UK for the purpose of determining whether he is a British citizen, whether he may enter without leave and if not whether they should be granted leave to enter the UK or refused.


1.  Inadequately Documented Arrivals [IDAs] [Air]


2003 = 1,4071
2004 = 1,028
2005 = 6,831


  We continue to drive down IDA numbers through a range of operational measures:

—    Interdictions—at key overseas departure points and European transit hubs. We have a network of Airline Liaison Officers (ALOs) based in key source and transit locations for IDAs seeking to come to the UK. The network has been expanded as part of the Government's five year strategy and there are now 34 ALOs in 32 locations, six Deputy ALOs and five ALO floaters who provide an additional, flexible resource to respond to emerging threats. So far this year (to 31 January 2006) carriers with the assistance of ALO's have denied boarding to 27,477 IDAs.

—    Surveillance—The deployment of the first full time Immigration Service Covert Surveillance Team (CST) at Heathrow has allowed for a more focussed, concerted and determined approach to IDAs and the associated organised criminality around them. This will support prosecution work against facilitators. Effective use of CCTV systems in addition to the use of the surveillance teams has ensured that we can identify the routings of IDAs to the UK in over 90% of cases. This provides the basis for working with carriers to aid prevention.

—    Prosecutions—Section 2 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc.) Act 2004 makes it an offence for a person not to have, at a leave or asylum interview, an immigration document which is in force and which satisfactory establishes his identity and nationality or citizenship. Since its inception in September 2004, the Section 2 offence has been a core contributor to our secure borders agenda. At the beginning of February this year, there had been over 500 convictions.


2.  Clandestine Entrants [Sea]


2003 = 3,482
2004 = 1,770
2005 = 1,588


  Continues to be achieved by:

—    Juxtaposed Controls have existed at the Channel Tunnel sites in Coquelles and Cheriton since the opening of the Tunnel System in 1994. They now also operate at Calais, Bolougne and Dunkerque and at the Eurostar operation rail terminals. During 2005, 3,031 passengers were refused leave to enter in Calais Ferry Port alone of which 1,207 were inadequately documented.

—    New Detection Technology is deployed in France, Belgium, Holland and the UK. Equipment includes:

—  Heartbeat (HB) Technology uses special sensors and a specific hardware/software combination to detect and analyse clandestine movements within freight vehicles via the vehicle chassis and super-structure

—  X/Gamma Ray Scanners are currently deployable to specifically search for concealed clandestine illegal entrants in the UK and in cooperation with the Belgian Federal Police.

—  CO2 probes are in use at many ports in France and the UK. They are used to detect the exhaled breath of clandestines in the trailers of vehicles.

We have a constant freight search team presence at the Juxtaposed Controls, and deploy a mobile Search Team of specially trained freight searchers in the UK and with Continental partners primarily to support counter measures against displacement from any Continental feeder port to the UK.

All of the activities on IDA's and clandestine entry have contributed to the significant overall reduction in asylum intake.


3.  Detecting abuse of the controls—    In 2005, 31,983 passengers were removed from the UK. This is in the context of 88,300,000 passengers travelling through the UK's ports each year.

—    We work in partnership with UKvisas to identify and address areas of common concern and share information which informs each other's operating policy. A formal referrals process was introduced in September 2004 where information about visas held by arriving passengers can be passed back to UKvisas. This contributes towards UKvisas' quality assurance and risk assessment processes. 1136 referrals have taken place so far.

4.  Asylum Screening Units [ASUs]

—    The core functions of the ASUs [in Croydon and Liverpool] are the intake of asylum applications, intensive screening interviews, fingerprinting and the issuing of application registration cards (ARCs). The ASUs are the first point of contact for approximately 50% of asylum applicants who make their claim in country.

5.  Looking Ahead

—    EBorders-Project Semaphore. E Borders will deliver a range of technological solutions to deliver a secure border for the 21st Century. Semaphore will inform and de-risk the main e-Borders implementation. It commenced in December 2004, and will run for 39 months when it will be superseded by the full e-Borders system. Semaphore is successfully generating alerts resulting in a number of operational benefits to the Border Agencies. Over 1,600 alerts have been issued since Semaphore became operational. The pilot Heathrow Passenger Analysis Unit (PAU) will maximise the effectiveness of Semaphore by dealing with alerts destined for Heathrow and the ALO Network. After enriching with any relevant intelligence, the PAU will prioritise the alert and task the primary arrivals control, an ALO or a surveillance officer to intercept. This work will be rolled out nationally.

—    IRIS (Iris Recognition Immigration System) will deliver a biometric automated border entry system for pre-registered travellers at selected ports in the United Kingdom. The scheme is voluntary and is principally targeted at low risk regular travellers. IRIS went live to the public as an operational pilot at Heathrow Terminal 2 and Terminal 4 on 20 June 2005. Following the successful completion of the pilot, rollout to the remaining airport terminals (at Heathrow; Gatwick; Manchester; Stansted and Birmingham) will be completed by end of summer 2006.

—    Border Management Programme—The White Paper "One Step Ahead—A 21st Century Strategy to Defeat Organised Crime" tasked HM Revenue and Customs, IND and the Police to work together to develop options for providing more effective border controls through enhanced inter-agency co-operation. The Border Management Programme has been established to take this forward. It will provide more effective joint working between the agencies in order to strengthen border security whilst minimising the impact on legitimate traffic.

Tom Dowdall
Deputy Director
Heathrow Airport and Airline Liaison Officer Network

27 February 2006






 
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