My inspection of Border Force operations at east coast seaports found that, viewed overall, the fixed immigration control points at the major seaports were efficiently and effectively managed, as were vehicle and freight arrivals at these ports. By contrast, coverage of smaller, normally unmanned, east coast ports and landing places was poor, with almost half of them not having had a visit from a Border Force officer for more than a year.
The inspection confirmed reports from various sources that there had been an increase in clandestine arrivals at east coast ports. Based on the cases examined, Border Force was dealing appropriately with these individuals, whether they claimed asylum or agreed to be removed immediately back to wherever they had embarked.
The overall sense was that Border Force was stretched, in some instances too thinly, but coping.
I sent my report to the Home Secretary at the beginning of February. While it has only now been published, I received the Home Office’s response to my recommendations in March, and am confident that in the interim Border Force will have been working to implement the necessary improvements.
Later this year, I intend to check on the progress made in relation to my recommendations and to continue my planned programme of inspections of the Home Office’s immigration and border functions at seaports and along the UK coastline with a focus on the south coast.