Union writes to Home Secretary over Olympic border chaos


The PCS has written to the home secretary Theresa May to outline serious concerns over the ongoing chaos at our borders and urging her to act as a matter of urgency.

The letter includes some of the reports the union has received from frontline staff over the weekend about mistakes being made by temporary staff because they are not adequately trained.

The letter points out that the union met immigration minister Damian Green on June 28th and raised serious concerns about the lack of permanent, fully trained staff as a direct result of the huge number of job cuts across UKBA and the Home Office.

Paul O’Connor, PCS’s national officer for the Home Office, writes: “On 15 July 2012, the Home Office went into full Olympic mode. This involves the extensive use of contingency staff who we have consistently said are inadequately prepared for the job.

“We have received a number of reports from our members about some of the problems that have already arisen, and we feel obliged to raise these concerns with you as we are deeply concerned about border security.”

He goes on to list some of the incidents that have occurred at Heathrow Airport, including:

– Concerns raised about a Brazilian national who claimed to have arrived a few days ago, but their passport stated they arrived over a year ago. It transpired the passport had been stamped with the wrong year

– Temporary staff informing experienced immigration officers they had made a mistake in allowing entry to a Turkish national without having indefinite leave to remain, when in fact there was an indefinite leave to remain stamp on the documentation – raising concerns that temporary staff do not know what to look for

– Relief staff being advised that they should not question visa nationals

– Staff being told that they cannot take any breaks, including drink and toilet breaks, as desks have to be 100% staffed.

Mr O’Connor adds: “It is clear the contingencies that have been put in place are inadequate to ensure that the border is secure. The lack of properly trained staff caused by the cuts programme is a recipe for disaster and must be addressed.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka added: “There are very longstanding issues within UKBA, not least the huge number of job cuts that are causing chaos at our borders.

“Ministers have known about these for a very long time and have chosen not to act. The home secretary cannot allow this to continue, she must step in as a matter of urgency to ensure the border force has the resources it needs.”

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