1 Inquiry into the
provision of UK Border Controls |
Sequence of events
1. On Friday 4 November 2011, it was reported that
Brodie Clark, the Head of the UK Border Force, had been suspended
along with two other Border Force officials while claims that
he had authorised the relaxation of border checks without ministerial
approval were investigated. The Home Secretary made a statement
to the House on Monday 7 November in which she suggested that
Mr Clark had exceeded the terms of an agreed trial of a risk-based
approach to entry controls. The Home Secretary stated:
On Wednesday, the head of the UK border force,
Brodie Clark, confirmed to Mr [Rob] Whiteman that border controls
had been relaxed without ministerial approval. First, biometric
checks on EEA nationals and warnings index checks on EEA national
children were abandoned on a regular basis, without ministerial
approval. Biometric tests on non-EEA nationals are also thought
to have been abandoned on occasions, again without ministerial
approval. Secondly, adults were not checked against the warnings
index at Calais, without ministerial approval. Thirdly, the verification
of the fingerprints of non-EEA nationals from countries that require
a visa was stopped, without ministerial approval. I did not give
my consent or authorisation for any of these decisions. Indeed,
I told officials explicitly that the pilot was to go no further
than we had agreed.
She announced the establishment of three inquiries
into the issue, two led by civil servants and one by the Chief
Inspector of the UK Border Agency.
The following day, Mr Clark left the Home Office and announced
that he would be pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal.
2. The precise facts of the case are disputed and
the Home Office has denied us access to original documents that
would have helped us to clarify the sequence of events and we
shall consider this further below. The main sequence of events
was as follows:
- In December 2010, the UK Border
Force began work on devising a pilot of 'risk and intelligence-led'
border checks, as a possible alternative to the process-based
system in which every person is subject to the same checks at
the border, depending on their nationality and visa status.
- In July 2011, the scope of a trial was agreed
by Ministers. Under the terms of the pilot, officers could use
their judgement to decide whether to read the biometric chip,
which contains a second photograph of the passport holder, in
UK and EEA passports (where they had such a chip). They could
also use their judgment to decide whether or not to check children
travelling in school parties or with parents against the Home
Office Warnings Index (a "watch list" of suspected terrorists),
rather than being required to do so in all cases. A third proposal
from the Border Agency, that checking the fingerprints of non-EEA
nationals requiring visas (a process known as "Secure ID")
should no longer be done automatically in all cases, was not approved
- On 29 July, an Interim Operational Instruction
was issued to UK Border Force staff setting out the agreed terms
of the trial, to take effect from 29 July until mid-September.
- On 14 September, the pilot was reviewed and it
was agreed that it should be extended until 4 November on the
basis of encouraging preliminary results.
- Between 26 September and 19 October, John Vine,
the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, made
an inspection at Heathrow Terminal 3, during which he says he
raised concerns with Brodie Clark about the frequency with which
Secure ID checks were being suspended.
- On 2 November 2011, Mr Vine met Rob Whiteman,
Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency. During this meeting,
Mr Vine referred to the suspension of Secure ID at Heathrow. It
is not clear to us why there was a delay of several weeks between
Mr Vine's discovery and his decision to raise the issue with Mr
Whiteman at a routine meeting.
- Following this meeting, Mr Whiteman held discussions
with both Mr Clark and Jonathan Sedgwick, former acting Chief
Executive of the UK Border Agency. He told us that Mr Sedgwick
confirmed that Ministers had not consented to the suspension of
Secure ID as part of the pilot. Mr Whiteman also said that Mr
Clark admitted during the course of these discussions that he
had gone beyond Ministerial authority, although Mr Clark denies
that he made such an admission to Mr Whiteman during those discussions.
- On 3 November, Mr Clark was suspended pending
an investigation. Home Office Ministers and the Permanent Secretary
were informed of the situation.
- On 7 November, the Home Secretary made a statement
to the House on UK Border Force.
- On 8 November the Home Secretary gave evidence
to this Committee. In the evening of the same day, Brodie Clarke
left the UK Border Agency, claiming constructive dismissal.
- On 15 November we took evidence from Brodie Clark
and Rob Whiteman.
- On 22 November we took evidence from Helen Ghosh
DCB, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office and Damian Green MP,
Minister for Immigration.
- On 8 December we took evidence from Jonathan
Sedgwick, International Group Director of the UK Border Agency,
who was the acting Chief Executive of the UK Border Agency during
the summer of 2011.
3. On 8 November, the day after her statement to
the House, the Home Secretary gave evidence to us and again repeated
the assertion that Mr Clark had gone beyond Ministerial authority.
That evening, Mr Clark issued a statement in which he said that
the Home Secretary had made his position untenable. He announced
that he had left the Home Office and would be making a claim for
constructive dismissal in the light of the behaviour of the Home
Office and comments made to Parliament by the Home Secretary:
Those statements are wrong and were made without
the benefit of hearing my response to formal allegations. With
the Home Secretary announcing and repeating her view that I am
at fault, I cannot see how any process conducted by the Home Office
or under its auspices, can be fair and balanced.
4. There have been several high-profile failings
for which the UK Border Agency has been responsible in the past
and there are ongoing concerns about the Agency's performance.
For this reason, we hold three sessions each year with the UK
Border Agency Chief Executive and regularly produce a report on
the workings of the Agency.
We continue to monitor the work of the UK Border Agency closely,
and as part of that process we decided to investigate this matter.
The pilot and the suspension of
5. Before the pilot was introduced, entrants to the
UK were all supposed to be subject to a standard range of checks
at the border, depending on whether they were EEA or non-EEA nationals
and, in the case of non-EEA nationals, whether or not they held
a visa. Border Force officers had no authority to waive checks,
except under the Home Office Warnings Index ('HOWI') Guidance,
described below. In late 2010, the UK Border Force started development
on a pilot of 'risk-based' border checks, allowing the Border
Force to use intelligence reports and officers' own judgement
to target the passengers and luggage on flights that were considered
to be high-risk. In its draft form, this pilot allowed three checks
to be omitted at officers' discretionopening the biometric
chip in British and EEA passports, checking children against the
Warnings Index, and checking the fingerprints of visa holders
to confirm their identity (Secure ID). Only the first two of these
measures were agreed to by Ministers. The third, which allowed
the suspension of the automatic use of Secure ID in all cases,
6. The biometric check consists of opening a second,
electronic copy of the photograph of the passport holder, stored
on a microchip, in order to ascertain that the original photo
has not been tampered with. The Warnings Index is a database of
terrorist suspects and others who are not to be admitted to the
country. Finally, Secure ID is a fingerprint check. Foreign nationals
applying for a visa must provide their fingerprints which are
then checked against immigration and criminal databases. On arrival
at a UK port, Secure ID is used to ascertain that the person carrying
the visa is the person who was granted the visa.
7. According to the leaked interim operational instruction,
the agreed pilot measures therefore were to be undertaken "for
short periods at a time [...] (up to several hours)" in order
to avoid having to use customs officers to staff passport control
desks where there was a high risk associated with goods entering
the country, or where delays at passport control could have a
more serious or critical impact on the operations of the post,
such as a risk to passengers' health and safety, a "baggage
crisis", passengers being detained on aircraft or disruption
to flight schedules.
The pilot started at the beginning of August. It was initially
due to finish in late September but was extended to 4 November.
8. In her statement to the House, the Home Secretary
accused Mr Clark of taking the pilot further than had been agreed:
First, biometric checks on EEA nationals and
warnings index checks on EEA national children were abandoned
on a regular basis, without ministerial approval. Biometric tests
on non-EEA nationals are also thought to have been abandoned on
occasions, again without ministerial approval. Secondly, adults
were not checked against the warnings index at Calais, without
ministerial approval. Thirdly, the verification of the fingerprints
of non-EEA nationals from countries that require a visa was stopped,
without ministerial approval.
When he appeared before us, Mr Clark initially denied
that he had exceeded Ministerial authority. He did admit though
that he had allowed the suspension of Secure ID to continue at
Heathrow when he learnt of it in early 2011 and confirmed to the
Committee that he had not sought specific Ministerial authority
to do this despite suspension of Secure ID having not been approved
when he proposed it as part of the pilot:
Nicola Blackwood: If I could continue
asking Mr Clark a little bit about the 2007 warning index guidance.
I understand that it is a restricted document, so most of us
haven't seen it apart from you, so it is helpful to hear a little
bit from you. When you decided that you thought it was sensible
to expand the meaning of the warnings index to include fingerprints,
did you seek any ministerial authority for that?
Brodie Clark: I didn't expand the
warnings index document to mean fingerprint matching.
Nicola Blackwood: Sorry, I thought
that that was what you said in answer to my
Brodie Clark: The suspensions at
Heathrow were in order to preserve the watch list checking at
Heathrow. The Home Office warnings index policy would have required
us normally to suspend watch list checking. I would never do
that, and would do everything I could to avoid doing that. Indeed,
the management at Heathrow also took that view. I therefore approved
that we suspended the fingerprint matching in order to preserve
the watch list checking. I did it to preserve the safety of the
UK, not to weaken it.
Nicola Blackwood: With no ministerial
Brodie Clark: The matter was not
raised with the Minister.
Nicola Blackwood: With no ministerial
authority? Yes or no? Did you ask any Minister whether it was
Brodie Clark: No. I did not raise
it with any Minister.
Mr Clark said that the suspension of the Warnings
Index checks and Secure ID checks had been carried out not as
an extension to the 2011 risk-based pilot but under a policy approved
by Ministers in 2007, known as the Home Office Warnings Index
although he later stated that the policy for suspension of Secure
ID in health and safety emergencies had only been in place since
2010. Indeed, it
is not possible that the Home Office Warnings Index Guidance 2007,
in its original form, could have expressly authorised the suspension
of Secure ID as the check was not introduced until March 2010.
Mr Clark has denied any knowledge of biometric checks on non-EEA
nationals being abandoned
and Rob Whiteman acknowledged to the Committee that Mr Clark had
not admitted to authorising the suspension of biometric checks
on non-EEA nationals to him at any point but that their conversations
had focussed on the suspension of Secure ID and the use of HOWI
Guidance for suspension of checks at Calais.'
Home Office Warnings Index Guidance
9. The Home Office has refused to provide us with
a copy of the HOWI Guidance, a document we believe to be of importance
as it has been discussed extensively in oral evidence to this
Committee, as well as in the House itself. It is our understanding
that it was developed to deal with health and safety situations
in which it became necessary to downgrade border checks to respond
to or avert a crisis such as a fire in the airport;
a build-up of passengers in the arrivals hall that prevented passengers
from disembarking from more recently landed aircraft and, in turn,
preventing aircraft from landing;
and, at Calais, queues of vehicles backed up to the motorway,
presenting a road-safety risk.
10. Mr Clark told us that the relaxation of Secure
ID and of Warnings Index checks was carried out under these guidelines,
not under the terms of the pilot.
Secure ID was not introduced until 2010,
several years after the HOWI Guidance was issued. However, Mr
Clark's view was that the Secure ID check was less important than
the Warnings Index check. It was one of nine checks that were
carried out on visa entrants, and one of the least important in
his view, whereas the Warnings Index check was the principal counter-terrorist
check. His reasoning was that, if the circumstances warranted
the suspension of the Warnings Index check, they must surely have
warranted to suspension of the fingerprint check.
In oral evidence to the Committee, however, Rob Whiteman explained
that he believed that the reason Ministers were opposed to any
reduction of Secure ID checks was because they did not agree with
Brodie Clark's assessment of them as 'secondary checks'
due both to the deterrent effect of the check and because "of
course, if somebody is found by that, it is actually quite a high-risk
caseif somebody has gone to the position of forging the
photograph in comparison with the photograph on the chipso,
although the number might be very low, Ministers were of the view
that the risk value of an incident would be high."
11. We are shocked at the sheer number of times the
HOWI guidelines have been invokedalmost 100 times at Calais
alone. Mr Clark told
us that the guidelines had been used on at least 50 occasions
between May and July 2011 and then on a further seven occasions
between August and October 2011.
The Immigration Minister, when questioned about the number of
times the guidelines had been implemented, confirmed that he expected
to be informed every time a situation occurred which required
the relaxation of border controls.
Chair: There is some criticism that you,
as Immigration Minister, ought really to have been doing the heavy
lifting on this, but at the end of the day, the Home Secretary
has been very much to the forefront. Given what you have seen
and what the Committee has seen over the last two weeks, hearing
Dame Helen's evidence about the way in which the Border Agency
is operating, and noting the fact that she talked about a culture
at the highest levels of the border force, do you feel there was
some responsibility on the part of Ministers to sort out what
appears to be rather chaotic decision making in respect of what
the Border Agency was doing?
Damian Green: I do not think it
was chaotic at all; I would not characterise it like that. Clearly,
what seems to have happened is that very relevant information
was withheld from Ministers, and, as you say, it appears to be
have been happening for a period of time. Of course, as Immigration
Minister, I am informed of emergencies; that is what I find most
disturbing. I have heard people say, "Shouldn't you have
known if things were happening in an emergency situation?"
Of course I am informed about emergencies. There are emergencies
in the immigration system from time to time, as everyone knows,
and some of them are directly relevant to this type of thing.
Since I have been Minister, for example, there has been a fire
in one of the terminals at Gatwick, which required the evacuation
of large numbers of people, some of whom were evacuated from air
side to land side, so the agency had to chase after them and try
to check them through retrospectively, as it were. Those kinds
of things happen, and I, as Minister, would be informed of them.
So if the 2007 guidelines were being used in an emergency, as
they were meant to be, I would have expected to be informed.
However, when questioned on whether he thought that
the HOWI Guidance was being used inappropriately Rob Whiteman
told the Committee:
Nicola Blackwood: Could I ask whether
you are of the opinion that the 2007 guidance has been used in
an inappropriate way, given the evidence that you have received
over the past few days?
Rob Whiteman: I would say that
the guidance relates to significant health and safety problems.
For instance, if at Calais traffic was backing up to the péage,
the motorway, or if flights were in the air and, therefore, the
operators felt that they could not operate a safe airport, I think
that the use of those provisions 100 times is greater than is
likely to have been caused by significant health and safety problems.
Although, as I said, this is a matter that John Vine will investigate,
I think that there was confusion on the ground about what provisions
were being used in relation to different checks. I think that
the health and safety provisions became used routinely, rather
than being used only in those circumstances.
Either the number of staff at the border is inadequate
to cope with passenger numbers, or senior staff have been too
ready to authorise the suspension of Warnings Index checks, or
some combination of the two. In either case, Ministers should
have been made aware and, if they were not, this is serious failing
on the part of senior Agency staff.
12. We are very concerned that the Home Office
Warnings Index Guidance 2007 might be being used inappropriately
at local level as a management tool instead of an emergency provision.
We recommend the Agency conduct a full review of its use of the
Guidance since its introduction, clarify to all ports the limits
of authority which they have to implement it and ensure that robust
reporting and monitoring mechanisms are in place for its continued
Brodie Clark's departure from
the UK Border Agency
13. There are clear disagreements between Mr Clark,
Mr Whiteman and Dame Helen about the sequence of events that led
up to Mr Clark's departure. Mr Clark has indicated that he is
bringing a claim for constructive dismissal against his former
employer. These matters are, or might soon be, for consideration
by an employment tribunal. We therefore make no comment about
the circumstances of Mr Clark's departure from the UK Border Agency,
but we are grateful to him for coming to give evidence to us at
a time when he was under a great deal of personal pressure, and
for declining to speak to the media until he had done so.
Communications between the UK
Border Agency and the Home Office
14. the UK Border Agency is described as "an
executive agency of the Home Office" but it is in fact an
integral part of the Department. While it has its own management
and budgetary structure, the UK Border Agency is still under the
aegis of the Home Office and it no longer formulates its own policythat
is the responsibility of Home Office Ministers, on the advice
of Home Office and UK Border Agency officials. The Permanent Secretary
has provided us with a detailed description of the various ways
in which Home Office Ministers and officials exercise oversight
of the UK Border Agency.
15. The oversight described by Dame Helen appears
to be extensive at all levels. This, if nothing else, indicates
that at some point there must have been a substantial and serious
breakdown in communication. In evidence to us, the Permanent Secretary
admitted that the nature of the discovery of these relaxations
of border checksby the Independent Inspector rather than
one of the many boards which oversee the work of the UK Border
Agencyindicated that the current methods of oversight were
Chair: Finally, before I ask colleagues
to come in on the pilot, isn't it strange that, despite the fact
that we have all these people working for UKBA and that you as
permanent secretary have given us a list in your letters of all
the boards and supervisory boards that exist, it took a chance
visit from Mr Vinepresumably he has been visiting since
he became the independent chief inspectorto discover this
most extraordinary circumstance whereby thousands of people were
allowed into the country without having their fingerprints checked?
With all these people employed by UKBA and all these people sitting
on boards, it was just a chance visit.
Dame Helen Ghosh: As I said in
my opening remarks, I think it gives us cause to consider the
chain of management information and our process for checking it.
I think it also raises cultural issues around the leadership of
It may be that this confusion has been compounded
by the number of changes that have taken place in the past year
- the appointment of a new Permanent Secretary at the same time
as the departure of the Agency Chief Executive in January, the
interregnum of nine months before Mr Whiteman was appointed in
September, and the transfer of the policy arm of the Agency to
the Home Office in August but it is not acceptable for a communications
system to be so dependent on individual officials as this would
16. There are a number of areas where communication
appears to have broken down. The Permanent Secretary informed
us that the Home Secretary had not been told when the pilot was
introduced in July 2011 of the previous HOWI guidance agreed to
by her predecessors.
Border Agency officials, including Mr Clark, appear to have acted
on the assumption that she would have been. Indeed when questioned,
Mr Clark said that he "would be surprised if they [the Home
Secretary and the Immigration Minister] did not know of these
policies or understand them."
Even after Mr Clark's suspension, there was disagreement over
the application of the pilot and the HOWI Guidance and the Home
Secretary did not refer to the HOWI Guidance when she made her
statement to the House. The Independent Chief Inspector of the
UKBA has highlighted differing views among front line staff at
Heathrow about which checks were supposed to be implemented, under
which circumstances. It would seem that concerns highlighted
by Mr Sedgwick about the risk of the pilot being over-interpreted
did not result in measures which might have avoided later recriminations.
17. Brodie Clark maintains that he informed the Agency
strategy board in December 2010 of his use of HOWI guidelines
to address the issues arising from overwhelming numbers of passengers.
He has stated that both Lin Homer, the then Chief Executive (currently
Chief Executive at HMRC) and Dave Wood, the board member who has
been asked by the Home Secretary to carry out an inquiry into
Mr Clark's conduct, were present at this meeting and no objections
were raised to his implementation of this guidance.
If this was the case then the entire board would share collective
responsibility for not ensuring that the Home Secretary was briefed
on the matter. It would also seriously undermine the credibility
of the inquiry being carried out by Mr Wood.
18. However, Mr Sedgwick disputed this claim, although
he had not been present at the meeting. He told us that the point
had been made in passing, in the context of a wider discussion
on aviation security:
It was a very minor sub-point in a very detailed
slide that was probably, as these things often are, circulated
at the meeting itself. I was not there, so I cannot recall. We
have a very clear process in place if a member of the board wishes
to make something clear to the board. This was not discussed with
We have requested a copy of the slide presentation
from the Home Office, which again has been refused. Without access
to the slide, we are unable to comment on either assertion. It
is surprising, that even a passing reference to the suspension
of Secure ID and Warnings Index checks did not ring alarm bells
for such senior staff and that they did not, even at that stage,
alert Ministers to the issue.
19. It is clear to us that there were problems in
communicating the remit of the pilot to Agency staff. In evidence
to us, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UKBA, John Vine,
described the inconsistency of passport checks at Heathrow Terminal
3. He also "noted a degree of confusion amongst both immigration
officers and more senior management about what was permitted under
[the pilot], resulting in inconsistent implementation".
20. Mr Sedgwick also described how, following the
first weekly report on the pilot, he had raised concerns with
Brodie Clark that it appeared that the pilot measures were being
used too routinely at Heathrow. He said that following this discussion,
Mr Clark spoke to staff at Heathrow and changes were made.
However, when Mr Vine and his inspection team visited Heathrow
between 26 September and 19 October, he was informed by staff
that the pilot was in operation between the hours of 6am to 9am
and 6pm to 9pm as a matter of daily routine. This indicates that
Mr Sedgwick's fears about over-interpretation of the pilot might
have been well-founded, but that there was no effective intervention
by Mr Sedgwick or his staff to deal with the issue. This was despite
Mr Clark's apparent instructions following both Mr Sedgwick's
and, later, Mr Vine's comments on the issue.
Memo from Brodie Clark to Graham Kyle (dated
11 October 2011)
I had a conversation with John Vine recently - part
of which was an update on his current review of aspects of the
work at Heathrow.
In passing, he mentioned the occasional and temporary
cessation of fingerprint verification. I explained that this was
rare - it did not surprise me that it had been invoked during
the early September period, given the substantial influx of students.
I confirmed that under circumstances where the port infrastructure
was at risk of collapse or where there was an imminent likelihood
of the police or the port operator requiring us to 'open our gates'
on the basis of order and control problems or health and safety
risks, then I had accepted the authority through my Duty Director
to approve a temporary relaxation on one aspect of our checking
process (in favour of retaining the rest of them).
This is the agreement we had reached and I know that
you have taken it seriously and cautiously. Nevertheless, I would
be grateful if you could follow up his observation and confirm
that the particular measure is not being deployed more than is
absolutely necessary for the safety and security of the port.
21. It would appear that senior officials had
been made aware of the suspension of Secure ID and that there
was potential for the pilot to become routine activity yet both
situations carried on unchecked. Officials ought to be in constant
communication and the effectiveness of the departments of the
UK Border Agency ought to be the responsibility of all senior
staff, not just the department heads.
22. In evidence sessions when we questioned the failures
of communication which allowed this issue to arise, our witnesses
maintained that it was not possible for Ministers or senior staff
to be aware of the situation. Indeed the Immigration Minister
referred to "a Rumsfeldian world of unknown unknowns."
However, we firmly believe that this should not be normal practice
for any part of Government. If we are to accept the version of
events as recounted by Ministers and senior Home Office staff
then it creates the impression that Mr Clark was running the UK
Border Force without effective checks or balances from either
his superiors or immediate colleagues despite the fact that the
Border Force is not a separate organisation, nor even part of
an independent agency, but is part of the mainstream responsibility
of the Home Office and comes directly under the responsibility
of the Permanent Secretary and the Board of the Department. There
ought to be a much closer working relationship between the various
parts of the UK Border Agency. Mr Whiteman described the Agency
as being more silo-based
than his previous work and it would appear that the Agency's use
of this model has enabled a situation where there was at best
a single line of communication between the Border Force and Ministers.
As a result there was a lack of oversight when this line of communication
23. The chain of communication from Ministers,
to senior management, to front-line staff of the UK Border Agency
is a long and convoluted one, and it seems to have become seriously
fragmented. We recommend that the Chief Inspector of the UKBA
carry out a thematic review of the Agency's internal communications
and report to Ministers as a matter of urgency.
24. It is difficult to understand how this situation
could have arisen, given that the Border Force is not a separate
organisation, external to and independent of the Home Office.
Nor is it a part of an independent agency, although the way the
Border Agency is described in terms of its title, its discrete
budget and the plethora of systems for accountability gives an
impression of independence and separate accountability. Even
the description given to the committee by the Permanent Secretary
demonstrated a muddle at the heart of this major Department. We
recommend that systems of accountability, responsibility and communications
be clarified and that the use of words such as "Agency"
in the title of an organisation be only used in future when that
organisation is institutionally separate from the Department.
Provision of information to this
25. The Home Secretary has established three separate
inquiries into these events. As mentioned above, Dave Wood, the
head of the Agency enforcement and crime group and a former Metropolitan
police officer, will carry out an investigation into exactly how,
when and where the suspension of checks might have taken place.
Mike Anderson, the Director General of Immigration at the Home
Office, is looking at the actions of the wider team working for
Brodie Clark. John Vine, the Chief Inspector, is conducting a
review to find out exactly what happened with the checks across
the Agency (including ministerial decisions), how the chain of
command in the Border Force operates and whether the system needs
to be changed in future.
26. In order for us to reach a definitive conclusion
on these issues, we need access to three key documents:
a) Instructions from the Home Secretary's private
office to Agency officials about the terms of the risk-based pilot.
We were denied access to this on the basis that the Home Secretary
would be providing copies of all relevant documentation to the
inquiries being carried out by the Home Office.
b) The Home Office Warnings Index Guidance issued
in 2007. We were denied access to this on the basis that the Home
Office does not release copies of operational instructions as
to do so could have a detrimental impact on the operational effectiveness
of border controls.
c) The periodic updates on the progress of the
pilot which were provided to Ministers by the Agency. We were
denied access to these on the basis that the Home Secretary would
be providing copies of all relevant documentation to the inquiries
being carried out by the Home Office.
27. Despite agreeing to make both the Home Office
Warnings Index Guidelines
and the periodic updates
available to us when she came before us on 8 November, the Home
Secretary has since refused to provide us with these documents.
Instead she has referred to the fact that she has appointed two
civil servants and the Chief Inspector of the UKBA to inquire
into the matter and provided the documents to them.
It is not unusual for a Minister of any Government to task civil
servants with holding inquiries into events which have caused
concern amongst the general public. However, notwithstanding any
internal departmental investigations, these documents would have
assisted our inquiry in confirming witness accounts and we would
normally expect a Government of any party to acquiesce to such
a request from a Select Committee. We recommend that the Home
Secretary deposit copies of all the documents that have been made
available to the three internal investigations in the Library
of this House. This will allow this Committee to reach an informed
conclusion of our own and would be consistent with the Government's
commitment to transparency and accountability.
The risk-based pilot
28. Early data indicate that the pilot has been a
success. According to figures used by the Prime Minister, there
was a 100% increase in the seizures of firearms, a 10% increase
in arrests of illegal immigrants and a 48% increase in the detection
of forged documents during the period of the pilot.
However, the Permanent Secretary conceded that the pilot would
have to be re-evaluated to take in to account the relaxation of
other border checks.
The findings cited by Ministers are preliminary findings and it
is not clear how much weight they carry. We await the publication
of a detailed analysis of the evidence provided by the pilot.
It is important that an evidence-based evaluation of the pilotand
the opportunity to learn important lessonsare not abandoned
because of a controversy that is to do with failures of management
and communication rather than the pilot itself. Objective and
evidence-based policy-making is too important to be brushed aside
and we urge Ministers to have the confidence to make sure that
this does not happen.
29. The risk-based pilot was intended to introduce
an intelligence-led approach to border security. By minimising
the time that staff spent on checking those unlikely to be a serious
threat to the UK (such as a school party of EEA children) they
were able to focus staffing resources on arrivals from areas which
are known to be a source of smuggled goods and illegal immigrants.
We fully support the policy intention of Ministers to ensure that
staff are being used as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The roll out of the pilot is especially important in the context
of staffing reduction at the border. It is vital that we do not
expect fewer staff to perform at the same levels without any mistakes
being madethere has to be a degree of flexibility in the
30. The UK Border Agency, in common with the rest
of the public sector, must learn to deliver its services with
fewer resources. Making "smarter" use of its own staff,
giving officers on the ground the freedom to make their own judgements,
is part of this and the risk-based pilot could be a promising
framework for a new approach. Ministers must ensure that this
episode does not discourage staff from using their own initiative
consistent with the Government's policies and Ministers are informed
within a reasonable period of time.
31. The risk-based pilot must not be scrapped
because of this controversy. We recommend that the findings and
analysis of the pilot be published in full, with a clear commitment
to further action if the initial findings suggest that it indeed
has been a success.
1 HC Deb, 7 November 2011, col.45 Back
HC Deb, 7 November 2011, col. 45-46 Back
The UK Border Force is a part of the UK Border Agency. During
our report, we refer to the UK Border Agency as the Agency-we
do this although it is an integral part of the Home Office and
not a separate arms-length body. Back
UK Border Agency Interim Operational Instruction No. BF 01 29
11, dated 28 July 2011. Appended to this report. Back
These reports can be found at: www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/home-affairs-committee/publications/ Back
UK Border Agency Interim Operational Instruction No. BF 01 29
11, dated 28 July 2011. Appended to this report. Back
HC Deb 7 November 2011, col.45 Back
Q18-23, Q83-86 Back
Q1, Q38 Back
Q41, Q78 & Q84 Back
Q17 and Q228 Back
Letter from Dame Helen Ghosh DCB 30 November 2011 Back
Letter from Brodie Clark 24 November 2011 Back
Letter from John Vine 1 Decmber 2011 Back
Memo from Brodie Clark to Graham Kyle 11/10/11 (reproduced in
Letter from the Home Secretary 21 November 2011 Back
Letter from the Home Secretary 14 November 2011 Back
Letter from the Home Secretary 21 November 2011 Back
Q22, Home Office Agencies, HC 1631-i Back
Q47, Home Office Agencies, HC 1631-i Back
Letter from the Home Secretary, 14 November 2011 Back
HC Deb 9 Nov 2011 col.278 Back