David Cameron, Dominic Grieve and Damian Green joined former Metropolitan Police commissioner Lord Stevens at City Airport today to look around the airport and launch his report on border protection. In February last year the Conservatives announced their intention to create a Border Protection Service and this report looked into how this might be done. Click here
to download it.
It recommends that a proper Border Police Force should bring
together the four principal existing border services – including parts
of the police and Revenue and Customs, as well as the Border and
Immigration Agency, UK Visas and the security section of the Department
of Transport – under a single, "uniformed and unified" unit of 30000 officers and civilian staff. The force will have the power to stop (through armed intervention if necessary),
search, detain and prosecute those smugglers, terrorists, traffickers
and illegal immigrants who currently slip through the net.
The Labour Government did introduce a pale imitation of this proposal but it didn’t include the police or have the extra powers required to enforce border security. Passport inspectors got new uniforms though.
Lord Stevens said:
“The security of our borders has long been one of my greatest concerns. The challenges to our borders today are from terrorism, organised crime, people trafficking, illegal immigration and fraud. All are greater and more sophisticated than we have ever known before, influenced by:
- Huge increases in the flow of people across the globe.
- A new ease and availability of transportation.
- Developments in communications, most notably the internet.
- Technological advances and the rise of international extremism.
Added to this we are part of an expanded and expanding European Union – in the main without internal frontiers. The EU borders now extend as far as Belarus and the Ukraine.
In this new and developing global environment, the border control and security apparatus of yesterday is no longer adequate. For too long, there has been a lack of a comprehensive overarching border security strategy. There has been an imbalance in investment and inefficient use of resources. A silo culture has resulted in a reluctance to engage with partner organisations, including, most damagingly, the inefficient sharing of intelligence.
The control of our borders simply cannot be managed effectively under current arrangements.
We therefore believe there is an urgent need for a fundamental re-design of our border arrangements to enable us to keep abreast of global developments. These challenges will best be met by bringing together the existing border agencies into a single, unified and coherent Border Protection Service.
We propose a service that would staff border posts at UK entry and exit points, including airports, seaports and the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. It would patrol coastal and land border areas to prevent, detect and deter illegal activity. It would also carry out necessary functions away from the border in pursuit of its key duties."
He added that the committee that came up with the report was apolitical and that the Government were taking notice of their work.
Cameron said that we’re not properly defended against the drug dealers, people traffickers, gun smugglers and terrorists who pose a threat to our way of life because our borders are porous: "they find it all too easy to come in and out of our country". He pointed out that eleven different agencies had responsibility for different aspects and commented that walking through City Airport "the case for a unified force was staring at you".
Cameron also noted that of all Britain’s hundreds of ports, just sixteen have round the clock security: "If you want to know why the Government has no clue how many immigrants are in our country and why our streets seem to have so many weapons and drugs – there is your answer".
Asked about the costings they said that it may cost more at the start but it would be worth it and the merging of organisations would probably save money in the long run.