Global Security: Afghanistan and Pakistan - Foreign Affairs Committee Contents


Further memorandum from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office

RESPONSE TO WRITTEN QUESTIONS SUBMITTED TO ISLAMABAD VISA SECTION, UK BORDER AGENCY

1.  Details of which business areas of the visa process in Pakistan are sub-contracted and to whom

  Gerry's Fed Ex operates and manages a fully outsourced service within Pakistan on behalf of VFS Global, UK Border Agency's Commercial Partner in the Gulf and Pakistan region. All visa decision-making processes are retained within the relevant UKBA Posts, Islamabad, UK Hub and Abu Dhabi.

The services outsourced to Gerry's Fed Ex include application receipt and validation, application streaming, fee handling, biometrics recording, data entry, application delivery, status tracking, interview booking and return of documents.

2.  Details of the procedures which exist to ensure quality control over any visa-related business which is sub-contracted

The following procedures exist to assure quality of outsourced services:

    (i) UKBA Visa Application Centre (VAC) Inspection Regime

      UKBA has implemented a new VAC inspection regime which is enacted by regional management and/or business assurance specialists. The Pakistan VACs are to be inspected annually. The key objective of the inspection is to assure the integrity of the outsourced operation. Please see Annex A (attached) for details of the inspection areas of coverage.

      (ii) Contractual Measures

    The outsourcing contract obliges suppliers to carry out the following:

    — Suppliers are required to conform to ISO 27001 and carry out an external ISO 27001 audit of all VACs; this has been carried out and recommendations implemented. The recommendations from the review were reviewed and agreed by UKBA CLAS consultants.

    — All security incidents arising in the VACS are recorded and reviewed as part of the weekly Post-VAC management meeting to ensure that appropriate responses have occurred.

    — An escalation process for security incidents exists between regions and central security teams.

    In addition to this UKBA is currently reviewing the contract to include new requirements to strengthen the integrity of the service, such as:

    — mandating the search of staff on exit from VAC in medium/high risk areas;

    — regular changing of combinations on doors;

    — mandating the use of tamper proof envelopes for document return from Post;

    — mandating staff rotation in key areas; and

    — greater CCTV monitoring of staff within areas of the VAC in which documents are returned to the applicant.

3.  Information detailing whether any legal action has been taken against UK Government staff or UK contractors/partners involved in visa processing in Pakistan. Where prosecutions have taken place, it would be helpful to know the nature of the charges and outcomes of the cases.

  RALON have been involved in one case of a prosecution against a BHC member of staff.

  Muhammad Mubeen Butt (Visa Assistant) was arrested on 20 February 2008 for aiding visa applicants and visa agents to obtain visas. It was alleged that an agent, Khurram Manzoor, had paid Mubeen PKR 2,600,000 (approximating at the time to £21,660) to "arrange" visas for eight visa applicants. Initially he was held on remand but bailed in July 2008 after providing a surety bond. Court hearings were held between March and May 2008 during which time he was ordered to pay money back to his "victims". He absconded from bail in July 2008 before sentencing could take place. Mubeen was dismissed from the BHC.

12 June 2009

Annex A

AREAS OF COVERAGE OF THE INSPECTION

  The inspection covers:

    — elements of physical security within and surrounding the VAC including protection of biometric machinery;

    — ensuring that the customer service provided by each VAC is of a timely and otherwise acceptable standard;

    — CCTV and monitoring of CCTV within the VAC;

    — integrity of doors and lockable units within the VACs;

    — integrity of staff including restricted use of mobile phones within the VAC;

    — named personnel holding keys to the VAC;

    — missing documents within or in transit to or from a VAC;

    — application transit to and from and stored within a VAC;

    — how VAC staff make it clear to the public the limits of the service offered around visa receipt ie, receipt of application only and no involvement in the award thereof; and

    — checks relating to registration of complaints and security incidents, unexpected or unexplained security kit failures, VAC guarding, staff vetting and disposal of all digital media.





 
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Prepared 2 August 2009