Committee calls for return to risk-based border checks

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on July 26, 2012

A committee of MPs has suggested that the UK should relax border checks after the Olympics to prevent long queues immigration.  The suggestion comes after Brodie Clark, the UK’s former border force chief, was forced to resign earlier in the year after easing identity checks.

Despite the criticisms at the time, Home Affairs Committee Chairman Keith Vaz has now urged Home Secretary Theresa May to return to the method, claiming it’s the best way to keep queues to a minimum. He added that such measures would be more acceptable to politicians and the public now that the “panic” has died down.

Mr Clark was reportedly given a £250,000 payout earlier in the year in a deal agreed with the Home Office. Neither side would admit fault, with the former border force chief claiming he was urged to reduce measures by MPs, but MPs saying he made the changes of his own accord.

Although Mr Vaz supported Mr Clark’s resignation at the time, he now claims his departure was “unnecessary”, and only happened because everyone was panicking.  He is calling for a return to the risk-based border checks that were seen before November 2011, in which EU passports deemed to be of low-risk and parties of school children, for example, were let through with reduced scrutiny.

Speaking to the BBC, MR Vaz said that Britain should learn lessons from the immigration fiasco and allow experienced officials to make judgement calls about who they should scrutinise. Fears of long queues during the Olympics have, however, been eased this week as extra staff members were drafted in and strike action called off.

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