Home Affairs Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 71

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House of COMMONS

Oral EVIDENCE

TAKEN BEFORE the

Home Affairs Committee

The Work of the UK Border Agency and Border Force

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Brian Moore QPM

Evidence heard in Public Questions 235 - 322

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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 22 May 2012

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Nicola Blackwood

Mr James Clappison

Michael Ellis

Dr Julian Huppert

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick

________________

Examination of Witness

Witness: Brian Moore QPM, Director General, Border Force, gave evidence.

Q235 Chair: This is the Committee’s investigation into the Border Force following the appointment of Brian Moore. Welcome, Mr Moore, and welcome to this Committee.

Brian Moore: Thank you.

Q236 Chair: We will be considering other matters after your hearing. Can I congratulate you most warmly on behalf of the Committee on your appointment? I would just like to deal initially with your appointment to this very important post. When were you told that you had this job? Because this is a job that was never advertised but was in the appointment and gift of the Home Secretary.

Brian Moore: Yes. I cannot recall the exact date. It was somewhere around 18 or 19 February, somewhere around there from memory.

Q237 Chair: You do not know exactly when the Home Secretary rang you and made you the head of the Border Force?

Brian Moore: The Home Office contacted my police authority. I can find out the exact date. I just do not have it with me right at the moment.

Q238 Chair: Right. When you were appointed, what was your remit? Because, of course, up until then there was one organisation headed by Rob Whiteman, who had recently gone through an appointment process and was appointed to head the entire operation. Basically you inherited a third or half of this organisation?

Brian Moore: My appointment is an interim one. I am seconded from the Wiltshire police, from 1 March until 31 August effectively, so I am interim head of the Border Force. After the Home Secretary’s announcement to Parliament that it should be establishing a separate law enforcement command, which is the Border Force, I inherited probably about a third of the overall size of the UKBA in the Border Force.

Q239 Chair: Do you know how many people you have working for you?

Brian Moore: Currently 7,300.

Q240 Chair: Your appointment lasts until August of this year. At the end of August, will you go back to Wiltshire?

Brian Moore: I don’t intend to. My contract expires pretty much at that period so they will be looking to appoint a new Chief Constable, probably, when the new Police and Crime Commissioners are elected in November. In theory I could certainly return there, but it probably would be quite disruptive to the business of Wiltshire police if I do return. If I am not successful in any subsequent application for this post, that I am currently occupying substantively, I shall look elsewhere probably.

Q241 Chair: It sounds all a bit uncertain, bearing in mind the UK Border Force is a very important organisation. We have the Olympics coming up. There seems a little bit of uncertainty. Let’s go to the certainty. You were appointed on an interim basis until August?

Brian Moore: Yes.

Q242 Chair: Your job has been advertised by the Home Secretary?

Brian Moore: Not yet.

Q243 Chair: Not yet. When is the permanent post going to be advertised because it is already the end of May, isn’t it?

Brian Moore: Yes. I understand that post will be advertised shortly, but again I am not aware of a specific date.

Q244 Chair: This must be a bit of a problem for you not knowing what is going to happen in the future, because you are indicating today that you will apply for this job. Is that right?

Brian Moore: I am intending to apply, yes.

Q245 Chair: But it is quite possible that somebody else might be appointed and then you will go off somewhere else?

Brian Moore: Yes, if there is a better candidate who will lead this wonderful organisation forward, good. So, no, there is no uncertainty, I am just very focused now on making sure that the Border Force is doing all that I would expect it to do moving forward. Everyone in the Border Force will be well led and well managed by me, moving forward.

Q246 Chair: In view of the fact the Olympics are coming up, and obviously that is going to be a key issue for you, wouldn’t it be wise that there should be no advertisement for this job until after the Olympics is completed, to give you the full confidence to know that you are not in competition with other people applying for your own job? Wouldn’t that certainty actually be quite welcome?

Brian Moore: No. I am not affected by that at all. It is not an issue on my mind for one second. I am just focused on making sure that we do a really good job, that we are very well prepared for the Olympics, and nothing-but nothing-undermines the security of the country during the time that I occupy this post. So I am not even thinking about that, Mr Vaz. I just want to focus on making sure the Border Force is well led.

Q247 Alun Michael: Can we clarify something about the role of the Border Force? Previously of course it was one organisation. The Border Force was simply a part of the Border Agency although we all know it is not an agency, it is a part of the Home Office. Can you clarify for us what the Border Force does and what the Border Agency does?

Brian Moore: The Border Agency deals initially with the allocation of visa requests in foreign countries, for example, so it has an international remit. Then it is responsible for inland, in-country investigation of immigration issues that affect the United Kingdom. The job of the Border Force is to screen all passengers and all goods arriving into the United Kingdom, so that we can detect and deter anyone who would break our laws or who otherwise poses a risk to the safety or security of the community of the United Kingdom. We are that very important checkpoint at the border, one of the natural filters in our island where we can detect and deter. Immigration crime is dealt with by the Border Agency in the main, and we concentrate on being able to detect and deter people who should not be coming to our country or goods that should not be coming to our country that arrive at our border.

Q248 Alun Michael: Can I be clear, though, how that works in practice? If somebody is identified coming into this country and there is a question about them, does that remain a matter for the Border Force or essentially are they pulled to one side and passed over to the Border Agency? That is where I am not clear where the lines come.

Brian Moore: Yes. There is a stage where the Border Force will do an investigation-a very limited one-in the presence of the person at the border. If we decide that there are queries about the status of that individual, they are issued with a notice, which basically detains them while some inquiries are made. If it is a very simple matter, they are allowed to proceed on their way or sent back. With something more complicated, then the position is that we refer cases to the UK Border Agency to take over. The detail of this is being worked through in transition arrangements. Of course one of the change management strands that falls to me and Mr Whiteman to do, is to make sure that the handoffs between the Border Agency and the Border Force are managed very well, going forward, but for the time being things are as they are. There are no-

Q249 Alun Michael: This may be subject to subsequent clarification, but if the case is being referred to the Border Agency do you still hold that individual or does the Border Agency then hold that individual?

Brian Moore: If they are put into detention for any reason, then the Border Agency is responsible for the detention in the detention estate of that individual.

Q250 Alun Michael: You referred to the number of people that you have responsibility for. I think you said 7,300?

Brian Moore: That is correct.

Q251 Alun Michael: How was it decided where the line would be drawn?

Brian Moore: It is largely historical. That which was allocated to the Border Force, as part of the Border Agency, has largely been moved into the separate agency. Again, of course, there will be work to do to make sure that the respective resourcing levels are appropriate moving forward, and that is part of the-

Q252 Alun Michael: Understood. At the point when it is clarified it might be helpful for you to inform the Committee. Then can I ask about the governance of the Border Force. You are accountable as the head of the Border Force, which is a part of the Home Office, to the Home Secretary. What about other accountability, are you accountable to the Permanent Secretary or to the director of one of the divisions or departments of the Home Office? I am not sure what terminology gets used because it keeps changing.

Brian Moore: We are a law enforcement command within the Home Office. I am an interim Director General, like the other Directors General in the Home Office. My line manager is the Permanent Secretary and I report to the Ministers and the Home Secretary, in the way that the other Directors General do.

Q253 Alun Michael: Is there any governance in respect of your work and the work of those within the Border Force? Is there a board, is there a committee, or is it simply a personal responsibility to the Permanent Secretary and, in policy terms, to the Home Secretary?

Brian Moore: Currently, I manage a senior management team of the senior members of the Border Force. I report to the Permanent Secretary and the Ministers. As part of these transition arrangements, I will be seeking to have a board put in place, but realistically, by the time we have done some of this transition work, that is going to be more like September or later on in the year, and subject-

Q254 Alun Michael: You are looking to put some form of governance in place and will that include some independent representation?

Brian Moore: Yes, that is what I would intend. Of course, I need to report all this to my seniors.

Chair: It would be helpful to have a note of that.

Q255 Mark Reckless: There is going to be another board for the Border Force, as well as the Home Office board and the UKBA board?

Brian Moore: These are all the issues that I will look to others to resolve for us, an effective system of governance that provides clarity and independent challenge-if and where that is necessary-but keeps the whole thing as non-bureaucratic as possible. One of the reasons why the Border Force was established was to make sure there is clear focus and challenge around Border Force-

Q256 Mark Reckless: This Committee is very keen to see effective prosecution of people smugglers. As you may be aware, there was a recent case in Sussex where a prosecution of alleged people smugglers-I think from Sri Lanka, supplying people to the black labour market-collapsed, and there was very significant judicial criticism about no one knowing who was in charge of the prosecution, whether it was seconded police officers or UKBA. There was no idea of what the disclosure regime was, and just huge incompetence in the prosecution of that, ostensibly by UKBA. Are you aware of that and is that an area where you and the Border Force, with your policing skills, may be able to get involved?

Brian Moore: I am not familiar with the case so I can’t comment, I am afraid. I don’t know enough about the Border Agency’s prosecution activities to be able to comment effectively.

Q257 Mark Reckless: Would the Border Force potentially have a role with prosecutions, or is that something you see as outside your area?

Brian Moore: In terms of prosecuting, one of the transition issues that I do want to examine is what capability the Border Force needs to be able to investigate and prosecute border-related crime and/or rely upon, for example, the UK Border Agency to provide that to us. These are issues that we are working through.

Q258 Chair: Thank you. We will come on to other issues to do with your role in a second. Can I just finish on your appointment and Wiltshire police? The Committee has received a letter from Sue Leffers and Zoë Durrant-a copy of which has been sent to the Home Secretary-about the way in which you conducted an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by your former deputy at Wiltshire. There is a complaint that you took over a year to make progress in this matter, and that it had to be referred to an outside body. Would you like to tell the Committee anything about this?

Brian Moore: I don’t think it is appropriate to comment on this. I managed the case well, but the reason why I can’t comment further is that there is an inquest into the death of a serving officer, which is to be heard on 11, 12 and 13 June, so really quite imminent, and there are some-

Q259 Chair: You are waiting for the outcome?

Brian Moore: Yes.

Q260 Chair: But you have nothing more to do with this particular investigation?

Brian Moore: I have nothing more to do with it, no.

Q261 Chair: Have you seen a copy of the letter?

Brian Moore: I have not.

Chair: The Committee will give it to you. Let us move on now to-

Mark Reckless: I have a point of order.

Chair: Yes, of course.

Mark Reckless: Could I make a declaration of interest? The individual concerned, Mr Ainsworth, was previously Assistant Chief Constable at Kent and I worked with him in that role as a member of the Police Authority then.

Q262 Chair: Thank you very much.

You have had a bit of a baptism of fire. You called it a "wonderful organisation", yet the Prime Minister was very concerned about it. He summoned the Home Secretary and the Immigration Minister to see him a fortnight ago. You seem to be quite relaxed about the long queues at Heathrow and other airports because you said if people had to have a delay because of border security, "then so be it". Is that still your position or do you support what the Minister has done, since you made that statement, in sending additional staff to our airports?

Brian Moore: In terms of those comments, I remember that well. I gave about six interviews in an hour, and I was able to say in all, bar the one that you have just quoted from-it was in the context of the Olympics, actually-that we had a very strong Olympic plan and I did not envisage at all that members of the travelling public would be delayed unnecessarily during the Olympic period.

Chair: Yes. We will come on to the Olympics in a minute. If you concentrate on now because we have other questions on the Olympics, specifically about what has happened in the last two weeks.

Brian Moore: Sure.

Q263 Chair: The fact that Ministers have had to send in more staff to deal with this issue, don’t you think that is something you ought to have done, since you have operational control of this matter? Why had you to wait for the Minister for Immigration to set up a new control system?

Brian Moore: My plan for the summer rise in passengers actually commenced on 1 May. That was something that I had pre-planned, to increase the numbers of staff being deployed to the border from 1 May.

Q264 Chair: So you were unaware of the queues at Heathrow Airport? You did not know people had been waiting for up to three hours? If the plan was 1 May, were you not conscious of the fact that people couldn’t get into this country for up to three hours? You went to Stansted, I understand. I have been to Stansted. People were waiting a very long time to have their passports checked. Were you not aware of that?

Brian Moore: I have visited a large number of ports. Any delay of three hours would be unacceptable. There is just no question about that. That is not right, unless there is some extraordinary reason. But for that to be routine-which it isn’t-is simply not acceptable. This has been part of a gradual process of moving our resources, which is sometimes not a strength of the Border Force that it has ready means to move its resources around quickly where there are peaks in demands. It took me a little time to get our resources assembled so that we could get the right number of people in the right place.

Q265 Chair: Mr Moore, some may think you were being very complacent. It took the Prime Minister telling you and the Home Office to get a grip before anything happened. Shouldn’t this have been something you should have sorted out before 1 May?

Brian Moore: I don’t know the Prime Minister’s thinking on this.

Q266 Chair: It was in the newspapers, Mr Moore. I don’t know the Prime Minister’s thinking, I just read what is in the newspapers.

Brian Moore: Right. Yes, I perhaps don’t always accept everything that I read in the press. But the point-

Q267 Chair: You had no contact with the Immigration Minister expressing concern about these queues? I find that remarkable.

Brian Moore: Of course, the Minister and I have been discussing security and queues since I arrived. We all want a secure border and delivering a fast and fair service for the travelling public. That is what we have been working hard to do together.

Q268 Mr Winnick: Mr Moore, airport and airport owners have stated that it is not tenable to maintain 100% passport checks, as the Border Force have insufficient numbers of staff to process passengers through immigration. What are your views on that?

Brian Moore: I think it is absolutely tenable to maintain a high level of checks at the border. We must maintain a high level of checks to keep our public safe. What we must do, and my job-hence back to the questions from Mr Vaz in a minute-is to make sure that the Border Force has an efficient way of moving the resources available to it around to meet demand. That is what I have been doing. That is the process. Strong security, and a fast and fair service for the travelling public, is what we must achieve.

Q269 Mr Winnick: Mr Moore, no one disputes the necessity for having high levels of security, otherwise there wouldn’t be any reason to have your organisation. Everyone is concerned, first and foremost, with the threat of terrorism, which certainly has not gone away. I did not ask you about high levels of security. We take that for granted, I hope. It is a question of whether it is necessary to have 100% passport checks, UK citizens coming with children and the rest of it. Do you have any views about the policy pursued by Mr Brodie Clark, who as you know was suspended-some would say "demonised"-because he brought about a system of flexibility that clearly the Home Secretary did not know about, or says she did not know about, and hence his suspension?

Brian Moore: I don’t know. I have never met Mr Clark, and I am not in a position to be able to comment about what he may have thought or said.

Mr Winnick: I accept that. What about-

Brian Moore: As I say, Ministers and the Home Secretary have been very clear that 100% checks are what they require, and that is what I am delivering.

Q270 Mr Winnick: Are you satisfied that there are sufficient staffing levels at the busiest airports, Heathrow first and foremost but other airports? The Chair had difficulties at Stansted. If you have difficulties at Stansted one can imagine what it is like at Heathrow, long queues and the hours of waiting. Are you satisfied that staffing arrangements now are meeting the urgency of what is happening or some would say "the crisis" at Heathrow?

Brian Moore: Staffing arrangements are improving all the time to meet the rise in passenger traffic that we can expect during the summer. Last week you heard the Minister tell the Committee that more people are being provided to Heathrow, and others will be provided to other ports as necessary, to make sure that we achieve the balance between strong border security and a fast and fair service to our travelling public.

Q271 Mr Winnick: The evidence we have had from the unions representing employees at airports gives a different picture. They say the staffing levels are nowhere near adequate. You dispute that?

Brian Moore: Yes, I do. I do dispute that. I understand the unions’ position. Unions do ask for more staff. The contingency arrangements that we have put in place are increasingly beginning to bite on the queue lengths. I think you heard evidence from BAA colleagues-probably as recently as last week-that even recently they are beginning to see improvements, as are we. I understand the unions’ position, but it is not quite as simple as they would have it.

Q272 Mr Winnick: Mr Moore, are you satisfied that as the summer approaches-obviously the Olympics but also the very busy summer season-we are not going to have a situation at Heathrow where people will be queuing up as they arrive in the United Kingdom, at Heathrow in particular, for two, three and four hours? Are you satisfied that will not occur?

Brian Moore: I am satisfied that with our contingency plans we should be in a position to see that not happen. There will always be-

Q273 Chair: That is a double negative. Can we have a straightforward answer? You are a straightforward police officer, so let’s have a straightforward answer, not a politician’s answer.

Brian Moore: I would not want to be accused of that, Mr Vaz.

Chair: Right, so what is the answer?

Brian Moore: I do not anticipate seeing large queues of two, three and four hours because of the work that we are doing to move our resource to meet demand. However-

Q274 Mr Winnick: Yes, what is the answer, Mr Moore?

Brian Moore: I do not anticipate seeing queues of two, three and four hours. However, there will always be circumstances beyond our control, so I cannot say-

Q275 Chair: Is this the wind issue that was raised last week?

Brian Moore: I am not commenting on what the circumstances might be, but there might always be conditions that may arise that simply defeat us. Our job will be to make sure that at the times of peak demand we have as much resource there as is necessary to be able to manage that which is present before us.

Q276 Mr Winnick: There will be a mighty row if what has occurred in the last few weeks occurs again, particularly during the Olympics.

Chair: We will deal with the Olympics in a second. We must move on.

Brian Moore: We have a strong plan for the Olympics, Mr Winnick.

Chair: We will come on to the Olympics now.

Q277 Bridget Phillipson: Mr Moore, my understanding is that staff holidays have been cancelled during the Olympics and extra staff are being drafted in. Could it be the case that queues are manageable during the Olympics, but then afterwards understandably staff will want to take time off and we will not necessarily have the same staffing levels? It might be after the Olympics that we see the lengthy queues that we have seen in recent weeks-

Brian Moore: We must keep this going, mustn’t we? We will learn a lot about this resource movement I have been talking about. We will learn a great deal from that. We will have a strong Olympics. In September we move into an important period where lots of students arrive in the United Kingdom to commence their studies, so we will need to keep a strong set of arrangements in place for September. This is going to be the position moving forward.

Q278 Bridget Phillipson: Will that really be possible because surely staff who are working throughout the summer, and won’t be able to take holidays, will have to take their own holidays at some point?

Brian Moore: We are principally talking about leave restrictions around the two blocks of two-week periods most associated with the big peak of arrivals of people in the United Kingdom for the Olympics. It won’t be continuous months and months of no leave. There are a couple of periods where it is sensible to do that. In terms of deciding that, of course, we did have regard that towards the end of the performance year, later on, people will want to take their leave. That has all been considered and is going into our planning.

Q279 Michael Ellis: Mr Moore, the issue of bunching of flights at airports has also been a factor, as have been the increased passenger numbers. We heard evidence last week, from the airlines and the like, and from the Minister, about how flights are tending to bunch together, arrive at the same time, put pressure on the system at focal points, as well as some airlines failing to provide information to the Border Force authorities on time, in less than the required number of hours that they should be doing so. That also puts pressure on staffing. At unprecedented levels of passenger traffic-for example, at the time of the Olympics-I understand the plan that the Border Force have is to draft in extra staff. It is my understanding that some of these extra staff will have a somewhat reduced period of training than is normally the case for full-time and full-service employees, the Border officers. The recommended period of training for Border officers is apparently 15 weeks-

Chair: Sorry, Mr Ellis, could you put your question.

Michael Ellis: I will do so in a moment, Mr Chairman. I won’t take a fraction of the long time that some of the Labour Members have taken, if that is all right with you. The point of my question is this. There is going to be less time for training of these temporary officers. Do you envisage that being a problem?

Brian Moore: No, I don’t, and if I can explain why. But taking your first point, yes, there are a host of factors about making sure that passengers have a smooth journey throughout their time. We are working closely with BAA and the carriers, to make sure that, end to end of the journey, the passenger arrival is properly understood and everyone plays a part in getting this right. That is very important.

In terms of the training being given to the contingency staff, let me explain that the Border Force officer training is three weeks in duration, the bit that deals with the arrival of people at the border. Our contingency staff receive two periods of training, which actually amounts to two weeks and one day as compared to the full three week period. I have read with interest some of the stories that have been circulated about this. May I just explain a little about the training?

Michael Ellis: Yes, please do.

Brian Moore: In dealing with an EEA citizen, which includes a British person, the contingency officer will receive one day of electronic e-learning, pre-course reading, including things like child protection-type issues and human trafficking issues in their pre-reads.

Q280 Chair: One day?

Brian Moore: One day. They then receive three days of classroom training. What we are asking them to do is to really be good at three things: one, establish the identity of the person who is presenting themselves to you; two, establish their nationality from which then one could make decisions; thirdly, to be able to handle the machinery, from which we can then determine whether there are any alerts or intelligence that we need to know about that person’s security status. Then through the fifth day, of course, is being mentored by an experienced person immediately after that training is done. When they are deployed, they are then supervised and sat next to a mentor. That is the first part. I have a little more to say about the training of these. That is to do with EEA citizens.

To do with non-EEA citizens, the same contingency officer receives a further day of e-learning, then four days in the classroom being able to understand more about visas, with different kinds of visas for non-EEA nationals of course; how to manage the secure identity fingerprint checking; and then a further day of mentoring with a colleague. In fact, that is 11 days over two weeks, as compared to the three-week period. That is the training that is provided to contingency staff.

Q281 Michael Ellis: It is 11 days over a couple of weeks, as opposed to about that same period over 15 weeks?

Brian Moore: That is correct. It is a three-week block of training in the main course. The colleagues on the main course will also do customs work, post-interview detention, which they don’t do.

Q282 Michael Ellis: The reportage that it was going to be four days compared to 15 weeks is absolute rubbish? The trade union figures that were being bandied about, to make it seem as though there was going to be an absolute huge difference between the training of the temporary staff and permanent staff, you are saying is absolutely wrong?

Brian Moore: I am saying that there are significant variations in the reportage, as you described it.

Q283 Chair: If you could answer the question. I think he has put a very good question to you. Is it wrong?

Brian Moore: It is wrong, yes.

Q284 Chair: It is wrong. How many days does the 15 weeks mean? How many days’ training is the norm?

Brian Moore: It does mean 15 weeks or more, in fact.

Q285 Chair: Is that five times 15, is it? You said-

Brian Moore: But not for the role that we are asking the contingency staff to do. They are not trained as customs officers.

Q286 Chair: It is a different role?

Brian Moore: It is a different role. We have given them an adequate amount of training to be able to do support work. Bear in mind these contingency arrangements have been planned for over a year now, and these staff have already been deployed for at least at three strikes and other days. So, yes, it is something that has not been just whistled up in the last week or so.

Michael Ellis: Mr Moore, thank you. That is very helpful.

Q287 Chair: The number of days’ training is what in total for a contingency member of staff, just for the record?

Brian Moore: A contingency member of staff, who will deal with EEA citizens-

Chair: Yes, you have explained what they are.

Brian Moore: -will receive five days.

Chair: Five days’ training.

Brian Moore: Yes, which is-let me just confirm-a day’s e-learning, three days-

Chair: Yes. We have gone through that. I understand that.

Brian Moore: The contingency staff dealing with non-EEA people will receive six days, so a contingency-

Q288 Chair: So the extra day?

Brian Moore: No, on top of what the person dealing with the EEA group gets, gets another period. So it is 11 days for a contingency staff member who can deal with both EEA nationals and-

Chair: Excellent.

Q289 Michael Ellis: Is the key point that they are getting roughly similar training from the other officers for that which they are being required to do? They are not being trained to be full-time border officers; they are being given the same sort of training that somebody else would get for the work they are being required to do.

Brian Moore: That is correct.

Q290 Mr Clappison: This is just a layman’s question really, listening to what you have already said. I am somebody who is not versed in the bureaucracy of all this. What do you think would be a reasonable maximum time for somebody to have to wait when they arrive at border control?

Brian Moore: I can talk about the current service level agreement.

Q291 Mr Clappison: If I can put it another way, at what point do you think a wait would become unreasonable? In your view, what would be a reasonable maximum time after which it becomes unreasonable?

Brian Moore: That would vary greatly from person to person, so I simply can’t give you an answer to that.

Q292 Mr Clappison: In your view, what do you think?

Chair: If you were arriving at the airport without your uniform on, with your wife and children, what Mr Clappison wants to know is what is a reasonable time that people ought to be made to wait? It is not a difficult question.

Brian Moore: It is 25 minutes and I think that is reasonable.

Chair: Reasonable.

Brian Moore: We will always try to improve that, and steps and efforts will be taken to improve that. But I understand what is going on in terms of security and getting this balance right. Provided our public understand that, and I think many of them do-there are lots of surveys out there saying how well the public understands security of the country is really important-most people have found that 25-minute mark to be not unreasonable.

Q293 Mr Clappison: You think after 25 minutes it becomes too long?

Brian Moore: No, I don’t. It’s difficult not to have words put in one’s mouth in this way-

Mr Clappison: No. I am asking you what you think. You tell me.

Brian Moore: It is a matter for our public and it is a matter for our politicians to come to a view on this. We will provide advice on the security. Frankly, no one wants to be delayed a moment in queues. Everyone wants to get straight off their plane and straight through the border. That simply can’t happen the way that many people would like, because there is some really important work to be done to make sure that people who do not pose a risk to the safety and security of people in our country are-

Q294 Chair: Mr Clappison was looking at what was reasonable and what was unreasonable. You said it was reasonable to wait 25 minutes but you didn’t know what was unreasonable.

Brian Moore: It is certainly reasonable because most people get through our border very, very quickly indeed, as compared to-

Chair: Okay, I think we get the point.

Q295 Dr Huppert: Mr Moore, the Border Force was separated out from the Border Agency because both agencies were having problems in a whole range of ways, which this Committee has examined on a number of occasions. A change is very much needed, and firm leadership is clearly needed in order to be able to make that change. So far today you have given fairly generic answers and very carefully avoided giving your opinion on any of the issues that you have been pressed on. Is that just because this is a Select Committee you are being very cautious?

Brian Moore: No. I am trying to do my best to help the Committee. I have a clear vision for the Border Force going forward; one that I am sure the public and the Ministers on their behalf would wish to see. Our country-a great country-will have among the safest and strongest borders in the world. It will provide a fast and fair service to our public. I want to get to the position where we use technology well, to screen and pre-screen people and goods coming to our country to identify risks. That is what we want to do.

Dr Huppert: I think we are looking for a bit more than just a mission statement, which any of us could write out.

Chair: I think we all agree with that.

Brian Moore: Thank you.

Q296 Dr Huppert: We are looking for a sense that you can actually make sure that this does happen, that the Border Force will deliver, will not have the problems that we have seen in the past, and will become an agency, an organisation that we should be proud of rather than embarrassed about.

Brian Moore: The next level of detail down from that, which I want to see for the Border Force, is that we are stronger and better at acquiring intelligence about those people who would threaten the United Kingdom’s safety and security. The Border Force reacts well to alerts about these things but, as a law enforcement officer, I can see there is more potential for it to acquire and utilise intelligence.

Q297 Dr Huppert: You would be in favour of intelligence-led checks, for example, which is what caused this whole fuss in the first place?

Brian Moore: I am in favour of intelligence-led alerts, to make sure that we can identify threats to our border, absolutely. I want to see more intelligence in our system being wrung from every encounter with suspects that we have. I want every scrap of intelligence about: "Who sent you to our country? Where were you going to go in our country? How was that being facilitated?" I want to see all the pips wrung from those kinds of encounters to inform what we do not know as well as what we do. Alerts tell you what you know. We need to strengthen how we acquire intelligence to help us about what we don’t know. I want to see more use made of the radar capabilities of this country. We are good at alerts based upon intelligence, but we can tie that into how civil aviation tells us what is coming to our country and how maritime intelligence tells us about what is approaching our country, linked to our National Border Targeting Centre. I really want to do more about that. Obviously, a national-

Q298 Dr Huppert: There are a number of issues in that we could perhaps look at. But let me ask you about one particular area of your responsibilities-something that this Committee is interested in separately-which is about drug policy in the UK. One of your responsibilities is to seal the border and try to prevent things from coming in. Clearly, things do come in. How effective do you think the Border Force is at trying to control drugs trafficking across the border?

Brian Moore: In the short period that I have been here, I have seen some absolutely excellent anti-drug operations led and managed by the Border Force. As you can well imagine, I have lots of data about the tonnes of class A drugs that we seize and it is really good work.

Q299 Chair: You have figures for what you have seized since you took up this appointment?

Brian Moore: I particularly have some figures here, assuming that you might choose to ask me about them, during this very busy period-

Q300 Chair: No, since you took up your appointment or are these historical figures?

Brian Moore: No, the data I have, I am talking about the Easter period, a very busy period when-

Chair: Right, excellent. Maybe you can send that to the Committee. That would be very helpful.

Brian Moore: It is very, very impressive.

Chair: Excellent.

Q301 Dr Huppert: When you say it is "very impressive", we have been looking at this in other countries as well and there are often individual seizures. But I would be interested to know how you think it compares to the total number of drugs that are available in the UK. What proportion do you think you are actually seizing? Because one or two interesting episodes is not quite the same as actually having control over what is coming in and out of the borders.

Brian Moore: Yes. The data about what drugs does the United Kingdom want for its drug-related communities as against what we seize is not agreed or clear. We seize about five tonnes of class A drugs a year. That is a very, very large amount indeed.

Q302 Dr Huppert: How many are estimated to be in the UK?

Brian Moore: The country’s need for drugs, I have not seen agreed data on the size of that cohort, actually, so I don’t want to speculate about it.

Chair: Could you write to the Committee with those figures? That would be very helpful.

Q303 Bridget Phillipson: There are reports in the press that, because of the problems with airport queues, staff are being redeployed from customs’ roles to tackle the queues. You were just talking about the figures there, are the figures that you are talking about for this period of Easter better than for the same period last year or is the redeployment of staff having an impact there?

Brian Moore: No, the figures are comparable to last year’s figures. I think they are slightly less. You are only taking a one-month snapshot, though they are certainly comparable. What we do is, yes, we do move our staff around. Some of our customs officers who have both sets of skills, i.e. immigration skills and customs skills, will sometimes find themselves doing some immigration work as well as their customs work when that is appropriate to do so. What I can tell you is-and I think the Minister told you about this-that in the month of April something like 230,000 customs inspections took place of passengers, of freight and of the post and parcel service that we do. We are still maintaining an effective capability around customs work. It is very close to my heart that drugs and guns do not reach communities and decimate them. I want to make sure that we continue to field a very good service about this.

Q304 Bridget Phillipson: The difficulty with the Minister’s answers last week was that, while he said that the figures were encouraging for this year, he wasn’t able to give comparable figures for the year before, so it is impossible to know whether that is better or worse or just about the same. Could you provide the figures for both periods to the Committee?

Brian Moore: I think we are in the hands of national statisticians around that. There are times when I think certain data are published, but I will do all I can to help you in that regard and I am sure my colleagues will take a note to that effect.

Q305 Mark Reckless: Mr Moore, what is your assessment of the current state of morale in the Border Force?

Brian Moore: It is a bell curve, as in any organisation. I have some absolutely brilliant people who no matter what adversity they find themselves in will do a great job for the public. I have some at the back end who no matter what happens will never be happy, and I have a group in the middle who are the community I need to concentrate on, quite frankly. Everybody in the public sector is feeling the pressure. There is no question about that. So do my people. I have now held 13 events where I have had the chance to speak to over 4,000 of my colleagues directly. What they are looking for is real clarity of direction. They want some continuity and stability and they want to be absolutely clear what is expected of them. That is what I am going to do. The feedback has been very, very encouraging indeed about trying to set a direction for them.

Q306 Mark Reckless: This group of Border Force officers that you refer to-that they will never be happy whatever you do-is it appropriate for them to remain in the employ of the Border Force?

Brian Moore: Ultimately, you have a range of options. There are those who could if only they were shown, and we will do that. There are those who, no matter what you do with them, will just not want to be part of the organisation, and I don’t think our public would want people like that protecting them, and frankly nor would I.

Q307 Mark Reckless: Are you taking any steps to manage any of those individuals out of the organisation?

Brian Moore: When they come to my attention and notice, I will make sure that everyone knows exactly what is expected of them. That is the purpose of these staff events that I have held. I have seen over 4,000, and I have made it very, very clear what is expected of a very professional law enforcement command within the Home Office going forward, which is one of the primary agencies in terms of keeping our public safe. No one will walk away from any event unclear about what is expected of them.

Q308 Nicola Blackwood: In previous evidence to the Committee, it was agreed by BAA and the unions that one of the key problems for the Border Force was rostering to adapt to the actual flow of passengers. One of the key challenges to actually achieving that was the accuracy of flight manifests. When we heard evidence from the Minister, it appeared that there could be inaccuracy, up to the level of 4,000 passengers, in the numbers that were received in advance by the Border Force. In light of the events of the last few months, what is your forward plan to try and address these challenges with the staffing levels that you have? Because clearly this problem is not going to get much better immediately, and with the JBOC1 systems and the passengers systems that you have, you are going to need to address the rostering problems that have become apparent.

Brian Moore: Absolutely. I think that is right. As I said, to get this right, the balance of security and a good passenger journey, needs really good co-operation between the carriers, the ports and the Border Force. I have seen some evidence that it has not necessarily been accepted by air carriers and ports that there is a problem with bunching. We have not seen really precise, clearly laid out data about the nature of the phenomenon. I do hope that this Committee has been helpful in encouraging BAA, carriers and the Border Force to get together to help sort this out. Going forward, we will get to the bottom of that.

Q309 Nicola Blackwood: But what about the Border Force response, when it becomes evident that there are not enough officers available to respond to the <?oasys [pc10p0] ?>number of passengers there? For example, where you have thousands of passengers waiting to go through and you only have one or two people available, do you not have some emergency procedure to call up additional staff?

Brian Moore: Yes. The senior officer on duty in a port is constantly checking what is happening between the amount of passengers anticipated arriving and the resources that are available. The more time we have to get that right the more he or she can do. What I have seen so far is some of our regions have seen themselves as quite autonomous, and not necessarily willing to speak to the region in the north of England to get help for the centre of England. That is work that we must do. That is why I have asked for plans to develop-a bit like you have heard about the control centre at Heathrow-a national command and control centre for the Border Force with its own radio channel and so on, so we can move staff around in light of anticipated demand more quickly.

Q310 Nicola Blackwood: In what kind of timeframe are you talking about? Because my father is a doctor and he is on call if an emergency arises. He has to be within 45 minutes of the hospital if someone has a heart attack so he can get there in time. Obviously we are not talking about heart attacks here, but we are talking about quite significant health and safety issues when you have massive build-ups of passengers within airports. I wonder why there isn’t an on-call structure with border officers, where if you have an unexpected build-up of passengers you don’t have a number of officers on call within 45 minutes of the airport, or something like that.

Brian Moore: Indeed. It is certainly about distances as well. Some of these airports are rather far apart and people do have to travel quite a long way. I do take your point, and the broader point is that the Border Force can and should do more to make sure that there is a very flexible, dynamic and available workforce to meet those kinds of demands, but one that is fair to the staff concerned. We have more work to do around this and I intend to do more work around this.

Q311 Chair: Mr Moore, you will be pleased to know we are coming to the end of this session. I have some quick factual points to put to you. A "yes", "no" or "don’t know" answer is perfectly fine by me. If somebody arrives for the Olympics with a visa and is on the watch list, will they be admitted to this country or not? Yes, they will be admitted; no, they will not be admitted? They have a visa, they arrive at the border and they are on the watch list.

Brian Moore: It absolutely depends on the scenario. With respect, on that bald set of facts I-

Q312 Chair: Maybe? It is possible, even if they are still on the watch list. We do not want them in but we will let them in if they have an Olympic visa?

Brian Moore: It depends what the watch list requires us to do. There is not a simple answer to that question, Mr Vaz.

Q313 Chair: It depends on the classification on the watch list?

Brian Moore: It depends on a number of factors.

Q314 Chair: Secondly, will foreign citizens who come for the Olympics be allowed to carry firearms on the streets of the United Kingdom? When they come through the border and they have a firearm-obviously not licensed in this country because they are foreign citizens, but they come in-will they be allowed to carry firearms in the UK?

Brian Moore: I will have to come back to you on the-

Q315 Chair: Is it a "yes", "no" or "don’t know"?

Brian Moore: I will have to come back to you on the detail. Citizens are not allowed to bring firearms into the United Kingdom.

Q316 Chair: No, a foreigner coming into this country.

Brian Moore: Right. If it is an Olympic athlete then there are, of course, special arrangements to make sure that they can eventually get their weapons in and do that. Again, it very much depends on the circumstances that you are describing. With relation specifically to the Olympics, I can get more information for you.

Q317 Chair: Would you? Because we are very keen. We know that a lot of FBI agents are coming in, agents from other countries, to protect their athletes. We just want to know whether this is going to be allowed. Presumably, it is "yes" and you would know-would you-or somebody would know how many foreign citizens were in our country carrying firearms? Somebody would know but not necessarily you?

Brian Moore: I am not agreeing the premise at the moment. I will find out more for you, Mr Vaz, if I may.

Q318 Chair: Would you? That would be helpful. Two quick practical points. The e-gates. When I was at Stansted the e-gates were not working. I was told the contract with the e-gate suppliers terminates at midnight, so if any flights come after midnight there is just nobody there to operate the e-gates. In fact, they were closed when I was at Stansted two weeks ago. Are you looking into this problem with the contractors? Because obviously we like the e-gates. It helps. It saves time.

Brian Moore: Yes, the e-gates, about 8 million passengers have used those. They are effective when they are working. What we are trying to do is make sure that the engineering support is really beefed up around those.

Q319 Chair: But are you looking at this?

Brian Moore: Yes, closely.

Q320 Chair: You are? Because they do break down quite a lot.

Brian Moore: Yes.

Q321 Chair: You are happy with the decision, taken by Mr Whiteman before you got your job, to get rid of the iris scanners?

Brian Moore: Yes, the iris technology is old. It has been replaced around the world by facial recognition technology and fingerprints, so it is converging with international-

Q322 Chair: Finally, it was raised in the House yesterday, by Nicholas Soames-who represents part of Gatwick, I think-about the absence of your officers actually at the kiosks. The key thing in order to clear queues is to have people at the kiosks processing these passports. Does it cause you concern that so many are left empty?

Brian Moore: What causes me concern is if we don’t have the right number of people able to handle the group of passengers arriving. That does not mean that all desks need to be staffed all the time. If you have a-

Q323 Chair: No, of course not. If there are no passengers you do not need to staff them, do you?

Brian Moore: Exactly, so-

Chair: I think we all accept that point; over 21.

Brian Moore: Yes. The Home Secretary has given a commitment that during the Olympics all desks will be staffed at the Olympic ports, and that is what we are going to do because it is a unique event. She has given that commitment and that is what we will do.

Chair: Thank you. The Committee will be writing to the Home Secretary about your successor’s appointment-it could well be you-because we feel it is unsatisfactory that we do not know when this post is going to be advertised. Certainly, even though you are focused on your job and doing the best you can, it is still an issue that needs to be resolved. We will want to know what the arrangements are, so I will be writing to the Home Secretary about it. We may have you back before the Olympics if things do not improve. Thank you for coming.


[1] Joint Border Operations Centre

Prepared 20th July 2012