The 14 Words

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

70million a year arrive in UK unchecked: Migration chief slams £1.2billion electronic borders fiasco

A £1.2billion ‘electronic borders’ system supposed to stop terrorists, foreign criminals and illegal immigrants getting into Britain has descended into a shambles, an official report reveals today.

Ten years after it was devised by Labour ministers, e-borders is failing to meet most of its objectives, leaving a string of gaping holes in the protections it promised to deliver. Some 70million passengers a year – one in three of the total – are arriving without undergoing background checks because of European Union data protection rules, inspectors found.

The report reveals:
  • The system is unable to count people in and out, leaving officials in the dark about the true scale of illegal immigration.
  • Technical problems mean people arriving on ferries, Eurostar trains, cruise ships and small planes are not screened in advance.
  • Even when known criminals and illegals are flagged by the system, airports may not be phoned in advance to warn about their impending arrival.
  • Nearly 650,000 Customs records about drugs and other contraband were deleted without even being read.
  • The system is not being used to track tax fraudsters and benefits cheats going on holiday because of technical problems.
  • Alerts about criminals and illegal immigrants may be missed because staff start dealing with them then ‘log off and go home’.
The report is the second in two months from chief inspector of borders and immigration John Vine to have been heavily redacted by Home Secretary Theresa May.

Some 39 paragraphs or entries were deleted, and four tables of figures, on the grounds that revealing them could undermine national security. But the raft of deletions will raise questions about whether embarrassing holes in border controls are being covered up.

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