Border Force staff shortages impacting effectiveness of border control, survey says

Staff shortages in the UK Border Force (UKBF) are putting increasing pressure on staff and causing concern that they’re no longer able to effectively protect the UK borders, a survey revealed on the 4 December. 

McDonnell Labour conference Photo PA

By Sarah.Aston

05 Dec 2014

The survey, which was conducted by ITV News and the PCS Union, revealed that of those that responded 98% said they believed there are were not enough staff to check vehicles whilst 48% said they could not check passports as a result of staff shortages.

Almost 65% of staff that responded revealed that they had been removed from custom checks to check passports and 80% of those said this happened on a daily or weekly basis.

490 staff, who are all members of the PCS, were surveyed between 10 and 24 November 2014 and 30.5 % of respondents worked at Ports, 46% worked in Airports and the remaining 23.4% worked in both.

One officer told ITV: “Staff are demotivated, angry and resentful of the circumstances they find themselves in.”

In response to the survey, immigration and security minister James Brokenshire said: “The results of this survey are not representative of the views of staff across Border Force.”

The UKBF and UK Border Agency (UKBA) have undergone several high-profile transformations over this Parliament.

In 2012 the Border Force was transitioned into the Home Office as a directorate following the public sacking of Brodie Clark.

Since then, the UKBA has had a high leadership turnover that saw Brian Moore then Tony Smith lead the Force before the appointment of Sir Charles Montgomery as director general in March 2013.

The UKBA was also transitioned into the Home Office in 2013 with the help of then outgoing chief executive Rob Whiteman.

In front of the Home Affairs Select Committee on 22 July, Montgomery was forced to acknowledge that UKBF staff morale was low.

In response to a People Survey that revealed “dissatisfaction” with the vision for the UKBF amongst staff, Montgomery said, although morale had was better than “a year ago”, the “endemic problems surrounding change – lack of investment in leadership over many years – have left us with a position that is going to take some time [to improve].”

Brokenshire said: “We have always said that transforming Border Force will take time but we are already making significant progress and we continue to strengthen the security of our borders to stop those who have no right to enter the UK, seize illegal goods and disrupt organised criminals.”

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