Travellers passing through Stansted Airport are being met by uniformed border control officials in dark blue suits, as part of the Border and Immigration Agency’s (BIA) drive towards a stronger presence at the UK’s border.
Immigration Minister Liam Byrne today met frontline border control teams at Stansted to see how the new uniforms, combined with clear signage marking out the border, make it clear to arriving passengers that they are entering UK territory.
Their national rollout, which started in August, creates the highly visible uniformed presence at the border outlined in the Prime Minister’s statement on national security in July.
Mr Byrne said:
“We are increasing the number of staff at our borders, new powers are on their way and new fingerprinting technology is stopping would-be cheats before they even get on a plane. Strong borders are a vital national line of defence against terrorism and crime. That’s why we are creating a single highly visible presence at the border through the rollout of uniforms and signage, increasing immigration policing and; through the action we’re taking overseas, stopping immigration offenders from travelling in the first place.
“Feedback from staff and the travelling public towards the uniforms has been very positive and this is an important step forward.”
Measures in place at Stansted Airport to ensure security at the border include new technology which allows immigration staff to scan biometric data in new e-passports, allowing fraud and forgery checks to be undertaken quickly and securely. Travel documents are also checked against the UK watch list which includes details of known criminals and immigration offenders.
The new technology is being used to strengthen the Government’s ability to stop identity fraud, forgery and to check people in and out of the country. This has already resulted in the details of 20 million passenger movements in and out of the UK being checked in 2006, resulting in 12,000 individuals being flagged for further checks and 1,000 arrests.
Last year Border and Immigration Agency (BIA) staff prevented 17,000 people crossing the channel illegally. At juxtaposed controls in France and Belgium the BIA caught 3,900 people trying to enter Britain through clandestine means.
While tougher security checks may result in slightly increased waiting times, a recent survey showed that the vast majority of the public - over 80 per cent - think it is reasonable to wait a little longer to allow for thorough entry checks. Tougher security is particularly important this time of heightened security.