Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Home Office


The Home Affairs Committee has announced its intention to conduct an inquiry into the physical controls which operate at United Kingdom ports of entry. The information which follows is provided in response to the invitation of 19 April 2000 to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate to submit a memorandum on this subject.


  1.1  The Home Office Statement of Purpose is "To build a safe, just and tolerant society in which the rights and responsibilities of individuals, families and communities are properly balanced and the protection and security of the public are maintained." To enable the Home Office to achieve its purpose it has seven aims which are the drivers for all planning and resource decisions in both policy and support directorates. The Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) of the Home Office owns AIM SIX which is concerned with the "Regulation of entry to and settlement in the United Kingdom in the interests of social stability and economic growth, and facilitation of travel by United Kingdom citizens"

  1.2  The Immigration Service comprises two of the nine directorates of IND (Organisational chart Annex 1). The key function of the Immigration Service Ports Directorate (ISPD) is to control the entry of people to the United Kingdom by operating an immigration control which deters the arrival of inadmissible passengers, determines the eligibility of people wishing to enter and denies admission to those who do not qualify. Embraced within such a function lies a duty to facilitate entry to the United Kingdom of those travellers who do qualify for admission. The principal role of the Immigration Service Enforcement Directorate (ISED) is to identify and remove from the United Kingdom those in breach of Immigration Rules and to target for prosecution those seeking to profit from abuse of the law. It also has responsibility for tactical intelligence matters, forgery and management of the detention estate.

  1.3  Although the two Immigration Service directorates remain distinct for budgetary and some administrative and management functions, their business is intrinsically linked and close cooperation is essential for delivery of common objectives. The first joint directorate business plan came into effect on 1 April 2000 (Annex 2[1]). It illustrates the move towards a more integrated approach, with ISED assuming management responsibility for regions of the United Kingdom within which there are passenger ports operated by ISPD staff (IS organisational chart Annex 3*). Effective service delivery demands cooperation and liaison within the Home Office, and more particularly between the IND directorates, where a unified approach is essential, not only in terms of matters such as policy and finance, but for the successful operation of certain types of business such as the management of asylum issues.

  1.4  ISPD currently has 2,492 staff in post (breakdown by grade and location 1995-99 provided at Annex 4*). Although passenger arrivals have continued to rise, ISPD has experienced a gradual reduction in staff (Annex 5 provides passenger figures 1995-99 and projections to 2004). For the first time for several years recruitment of new staff has recently been possible and appointment and training is now underway.

  1.5  ISED currently has 565 staff in post (breakdown by grade and location provided at Annex 6*). Currently, operational grades of Immigration Officer (IO), Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) and Inspector (HMI) are recruited and transferred from ISPD. There are, however, plans for direct recruitment in the near future.

  1.6  Most of the operations of the Immigration Service are funded from its own delegated cash budget. Budget allocation for year ending April 2000 was set at £99.65 million for ISPD and £50.0 million for ISED. (Details of allocations for previous years are contained within Annex 7 and the ISPD Operating Plans 1998-2000 at Annex 8*.

  1.7  The joint key functions and detailed objectives of ISPD and ISED are provided in the current business plan (Annex 2*). The Immigration Service recognises the need to control immigration by operating an effective and efficient process which meets prescribed service standards and which inconveniences as little as possible those people who are entitled or qualified to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. The operation of an effective control whilst maintaining service standards is always likely to constitute a major challenge for the Immigration Service.

  1.8  Schedule 2 of the Immigration Act 1971 and the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 Immigration (Leave to Enter and Remain Order 2000) provide immigration officer powers in relation to the examination of passengers and the granting or refusing of leave to enter. HC 395 provides Immigration Rules by which immigration officers currently operate and includes the requirement for immigration officers, entry clearance officers and all staff of the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Directorate to "carry out their duties without regard to the race, colour or religion of persons seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom". A professional standards code is also in place as a guide to conduct and best practice.

  1.9  As part of the entry clearance operation abroad some member of Immigration Service staff undertake periods of service overseas. Details of the role of Entry Clearance Officers and Managers are provided in Section 8.

  1.10  An analysis of the proportion of passengers stopped at ports for further examination (IS81 cases) who are subsequently refused entry or decide to return voluntarily (IS81 proceed cases) was considered a useful starting point by the National Audit Office (HC204) Entry Into the United Kingdom at Annex 9* for assessing the effectiveness of initial decisions taken at the immigration control. A breakdown of such figures for the last fiscal year on a port by port basis are provided at Annex 10*, together with national totals for the last three years. Other indicators used to measure performance are included in the ISPD Operating Plan and Report 1999-2000 (Annex 8*).

  1.11  Target clearance times for passengers not requiring further examination are given in the ISPD Operating Plan and Report 1999-2000 (Annex 8*). More efficient and accurate methods of queue measurement are currently being researched (Objective 7 Business Plan 2000-01 at Annex 2*).

  1.12  Since the introduction of the Immigration Act 1971 the operation of immigration controls at United Kingdom ports of entry has been based on the requirement to give written leave to enter to all non-EEA nationals arriving from outside the Common Travel Area. With effect from 1993 it was no longer possible to rely upon officers of Customs and Excise to carry out immigration functions at small ports or outstations. The requirement to provide immigration officer coverage at such ports, albeit on a non permanent basis, has had significant resource implications for the Immigration Service. Responsibility for such operations is held by staffed ports which provide officers to cover passenger arrivals when required (Annex 11[2] provides details of staffed ports, small ports and ports which undertake both ISPD and ISED functions).

  1.13  There has been a significant change in the nature and volume of passenger traffic since the introduction of the Immigration Act 1971. In 1998-99 some 84 million passengers arrived at United Kingdom ports. Non-EEA nationals accounted for 11.5 million of these, the vast majority being genuine and presenting no threat to the immigration control. It is estimated that passenger figures will continue to increase by about 5 per cent each year over the next three years. A Comprehensive Spending Review and subsequent White Paper, "Fairer, Faster and Firmer—a modern approach to Immigration and Asylum", published in 1998, identified the need for greater flexibility in the operation of the immigration control. It concluded that the 1971 Act placed too many constraints on the way in which the immigration control was operated with the result that too much time and resources were being spent on passengers who presented little or no risk. This detracted from resources needed to deal with areas of abuse and to develop a tactical response to illegal immigration and racketeering. Details of the provisions within the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 which allow greater operational flexibility are included in Annex 12. The Consultation Paper relating to such provisions can be found at Annex 13*).

  1.14  Carriers Liability legislation was introduced in 1987 and imposed a charge on carriers of £1,000 in respect of each passenger arriving in the United Kingdom with inadequate documentation (subject to a defence where the carrier saw proper documentation on embarkation). This was increased to £2,000 on 1 August 1991 in response to escalating numbers of inadequately documented passengers. The subsequent escalation of clandestine entrants has been attributed in part to the effectiveness of this measure. Background to and details of the Civil Penalty provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act, designed to combat clandestine entry, can be found in Annex 14 and in the relevant Consultation Paper (Annex 15*). Details of the extension of carrier liability provisions to the owners or operators of road passenger vehicles are provided in Section 12 (Annex 37).

  1.15  The special circumstances relating to juxtaposed immigration controls established for the Channel Tunnel Fixed Link are detailed in Annex 16.

  1.16  The White Paper (Annex 17*) raised the possibility that the evergrowing number of both individuals and business enterprises benefiting from the growth in international travel would be asked to bear a greater proportion of the costs of the immigration control. Background to and details of the measures relating to the provision of facilities by port operators and charging for additional services can be found in the relevant Consultation Paper (Annex 18*).


  2.1  Recent years have witnessed a significant increase in the number of passengers arriving in the UK from outside the Common Travel Area. The vast majority of the travelling public is genuine and presents no risk to the immigration control. One of the principal challenges for the Immigration Service is to deal with the ever increasing flow of bona fide passenger traffic at more locations, as swiftly as possible, with proportionately less resources whilst maintaining an effective control on racketeers, facilitators and those seeking to undermine the immigration laws. The new legislation relating to flexibility and passenger information provides not only the means to achieve this but also the scope to adopt new ways of working in the future with the development of new technology (see Annex 12). The scope of the new provisions also provides for sending immigration officers overseas to address particular pressure points. Prior agreement to such an arrangement would, of course, need to be reached with the overseas government concerned.

  2.2  The number of applications received for asylum at ports of entry in the United Kingdom increased significantly in 1999 (Annex 19 provides statistics from 1995 to 1999). Processing of such applications presents a further challenge to the immigration control. For those unqualified to enter or remain, asylum applications may be seen as a way to avoid removal and or prolong stay in the United Kingdom. As part of the Government's strategy to speed up the asylum process and quickly identify genuine or unfounded asylum seekers, the reception centre at Oakington will provide a fast-track facility to deal quickly with straightforward asylum claims. Further details of this, and other initiatives to meet the Government's target of delivering most initial asylum decisions within two months, and most appeals within a further four months, from April 2001 can be found in Annex 20. The introduction of further legislation under the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, enabling the fingerprinting of non-asylum categories of individuals in addition to asylum seekers, is designed to act as a deterrent to multiple applications and fraudulent claims for benefit.

  2.3  Illegal immigration, once an opportunist endeavour on a small scale, is now increasing. Organised criminal gangs are now in control of the highly profitable illegal migrant trade to the West. (See Annex 21—intelligence).

  2.4  Civil Penalty legislation in the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 was introduced to stem the escalation in clandestine entry by vehicle and discourage illegal traffic. The provisions impose a penalty (currently £2,000) per clandestine entrant on drivers and other responsible persons found to have such persons in their vehicles having failed to take adequate precautions to prevent their entry. The effectiveness of Civil Penalty as a deterrent cannot be realistically evaluated at this early stage although early signs are encouraging. It is recognised that Civil Penalty for Vehicles may have a displacement effect on clandestine entry and there are plans to extend the penalty to rail, air and sea transport (see Annex 14). The amendments made by that Act to the offence of facilitating entry of illegal entrants or asylum applicants is designed to act as a deterrent in the fight against clandestine entry (see Annex 22 for details of the IS Facilitation Support Unit).

  2.5  The fraudulent use of travel documents has long been recognised by the UK as a serious threat to the integrity of the immigration control by people who do not qualify for entry under the Immigration Rules. Despite an effective network of Airline Liaison Officers, starting in 1993 (see Annex 23), to reduce growing numbers of inadequately documented arrivals, and other preventative measures such as new visa regimes, the challenge to UK border controls from travel document abuse is severe and persistent (see Annex 21—National Forgery Section (NFS) & Annex 24). New visa regimes are being imposed as a last resort in the face of extensive and sustained abuse of the immigration process and when it is considered that there are no alternative measures available. The success of ALOs in the relatively containable airport environments has contributed to the resurgence of clandestine entry in overland routes were large-scale movements of people are possible.


  3.1  The day to day business of the Immigration Service requires liaison and co-operation with other UK Government Agencies, those of other countries and also with private sector bodies such as port authorities and carriers. However, it also plays a significant part in many national and international fora concerned with liaison and the exchange of information. The background to some of this follows, together with examples of joint working and co-operation.

Other government agencies/international agencies and organisations

  3.2  Building on earlier tripartite arrangements between the Police, Customs and Excise and the Immigration Service, the Border Agencies Working Group (BAWG) was established in 1997. The Security Service and NCIS now also field representatives to attend meetings, which are held quarterly under the chairmanship of each agency, on an annually rotating cycle. This year the chair is with Customs and Excise who succeeded the Police Service on 1 January 2000. The Immigration Service will assume the mantle on 1 January 2001. The Immigration Service Estates and Telecommunications Management Unit is represented on the BAWG and takes the lead in promoting sharing, where possible, of accommodation and facilities between agencies (Annex 25).

  3.3  The Joint Entry Clearance Unit (JECU) was a result of a joint Home/Foreign Office study of entry clearance (chaired by the Cabinet Office) which recommended a combined management structure to achieve greater integration between the various elements of immigration control. The initiative, agreed by Ministers in May 1998, reflects the Government's wider commitment to move towards a more joined up approach. The new arrangements are due to be in place by 5 June 2000 (JECU background and structure Annex 26).

  3.4  The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 incorporated a provision for "statutory gateways" to be created between the IS and certain other law enforcement agencies. (Annex 27).

  3.5  Under the auspices of the IND Intelligence Section (INDIS) and the National Forgery Section (NFS), the Immigration Service has well established links with other government agencies such as the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS) and the UK Passport Agency. It also co-operates with Interpol and Europol (Annexes 28 and 29).

  3.6  The Immigration Service at ports of entry has regular contact with other countries' agencies such as police, border police or immigration authorities in respect of persons being deported or removed from, to or through the United Kingdom. In accordance with Annex 9 to the International Convention on Civil Aviation (Chicago Convention) of 1944 notifications of deportations and names of escorts should be made to ensure the safety and security of aircraft, passengers and crew and to ensure security and safety at transit or destination points.

  3.7  Immigration Service staff also participate in specific liaison visits to other countries to enhance operational co-operation, promote awareness of other countries practices and procedures and, on rare occasions, to resolve operational difficulties.

  3.8  In order to gather information on the Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) operating at major ports of entry to the United States, a visit was made to Miami International airport in January 2000 by a representative of the Immigration Service Strategy Team. Information gained from the presentations and practical demonstrations was fed into the Flexibility and Passenger Information Project and informed consultation with carriers, many of whom are signed up to the American system.

  3.9  The Immigration Service participates in an umber of international working groups such as the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Control Authority Working Group (CAWG) which has representatives from 17 countries. Representation is at senior levels within government immigration authorities and national airlines. The group meets twice a year (with sub groups meeting more frequently) to discuss a range of issues of mutual interest. The Immigration Service also participates on the Facilitation Panel of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and provides a delegate to a sub group of the European Civil Aviation Conference.

  3.10  Annex 30 gives details on current procedures in place to share information on asylum related matters through CIREA and CAHAR and gives the background to Eurodace which aims to make the application of the Dublin Convention more effective.

  3.11  In 1996, the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) agreed to co-operate in areas of immigration control overseas. This agreement specifically relates to joint working between the UK Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) and the Canadian Immigration Control Officer (ICO) networks. Where ALOs and ICOs are co-located they work closely together, conducting joint training sessions for airlines and representing both countries' interests when providing advice and guidance to airline staff on passengers' travel documents. The agreement is reviewed regularly to ensure that it reflects the changing requirements of both networks.

Private sector bodies

  3.12  Consideration of proposals from the White Paper and implementation of provisions contained within the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 have involved, and continue to involve, consultation with stakeholders, business partners and other interested parties. Such consultation has included presentations, regular meetings and the drafting of consultation papers (Annexes 13, 15 and 18[3]). The Consultation Working Group on Facilities and charging for additional services is jointly chaired by IND and the DETR. The aim of the group, which includes 17 industry representatives, is to reach reasonable agreement where possible on the facilities to be provided without charge at ports and the definition of the basic service to be provided.

  3.13  The Immigration Service is involved in joint initiatives with police and HM Customs and Excise in partnership with British Airports Authority (BAA) to improve security and to assist in the prevention and detection of crime. In addition to proposals for the installation of CCTV, Facial Recognition technology has recently been trialled to examine its role in the fight against racketeers, traffickers and inadequately documented arrivals as well as the possibility of improving the flexible use of the terminal buildings.

  3.14  The Immigration Service continues to work closely with BAA to establish a signage standard and strategy. Using BAA knowledge of internationally approved signs and their expertise in wording and positioning, the strategy has been implemented at other non BAA ports to give the IS a consistent identify and assist in speeding passenger flows.

  3.15  Annex 31 gives details of the Automated Fingerprinting Identification System, which has involved co-operation with public and private bodies, both in the UK and abroad.

  3.16  Immigration Service staff participate in training sessions for carriers both in the United Kingdom and abroad.

  3.17  Annex 32 details accountability and legal restraints on sharing information from the Warnings Index (WI) computer system (see Section 4 on technology).


In support of the controls at ports of entry

  4.1  The Port Administration System (PAS) was introduced in 1991 to automate the management of passenger casework in the Immigration Service. It was designed to record actions on the progress of a person's application for entry where further examination was necessary and produces the necessary paperwork, but it has additionally and increasingly become the main source of casework statistics for ISPD. It is currently operated at the 15 major casework generating ports, with all other locations relying on manual systems. The PAS is now essentially a legacy system and very expensive to amend, but the Immigration Service (IS) is very much reliant upon it. Upgrading has been on hold while it seemed that its functionality would be subsumed by the IND Casework Programme, but continuing delays with this has meant that urgent action is now required to maintain the PAS's viability. Consideration is now being given to accessing this application via POISE, (see section 4.7 below) which will also give benefits of wide-area connectivity. These enhancements will prolong the useful life of the PAS while a replacement is found.

  4.2  The Warnings Index (WI) computer system is the primary tool for supporting the immigration entry control throughout the UK. It was introduced to the UK in 1995, and since 1998 has also been in use by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (soon to be the Joint Entry Clearance Unit) in supporting the operation of visa regimes abroad. The system is used by the Channel Islands and Other Government Departments. It processes protectively marked data, some of which is supplied by the Other Government Departments, so data security and access controls are carefully managed. The system comprises fixed control terminals where the majority of business is undertaken, back office terminals where supporting information can be derived, and portable computer terminals. The majority of these terminals are linked to a central system at the Warnings Index Control Unit (WICU). The fixed control and portable computer terminals contain primary information only, and reference to a back office terminal or WICU is required to access supporting information. The Joint Entry Clearance Unit and Channel Islands users only have non-networked portable terminals and must refer to WICU for supporting information. The system is in use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. WICU is staffed accordingly to manage the system and support business users.

  4.3  In 1998 embarkation controls were reconfigured. Immigration staff resources were withdrawn from the routine and largely nugatory attendance at embarkation controls and CCTV systems were installed at key departure points in their place. This equipment was provided by port operators, in part in return for the release of embarkation control accommodation. Adequate accommodation has been retained at the embarkation control for any urgent or ad-hoc need for a physical control. This change released much needed staff resources for the arrivals control. CCTV equipment has been useful in providing evidence that certain persons claiming to be new asylum seekers from overseas had actually already been in the UK and used the embarkation control with intent to defraud.

  4.4  Annex 33 is a detailed description of the use of technology from the perspective of the National Forgery Section of the ISED, including the use of technology to detect clandestine entrants. It also provides input on the use of forgery detection equipment at ports of entry.

As a management resource at ports of entry

  4.5  In 1996 the IS concluded negotiations with BAA to provide two IT systems for use at Heathrow and Gatwick, one to predict the staff resources required to meet service standards at a particular location, and the second to automate duty compilation for shift-working immigration officers to meet this need. The first system, IMPACT, can be used as a forward planning tool and was also designed to predict in real-time what staff would be required in the hours ahead. In the event the latter development was not pursued beyond trial stage because of some technical incompatibilities and because staff shortages meant that there were never enough officers available to meet any identified shortfall. The planning version of IMPACT is still in use though other more modern systems are now available. The IS intends to research the Workforce Analysis Models use by the American INS. The duty compilation programme, ROSPLAN, is in use at Heathrow and Gatwick locations but because it is a derivative of BAA's own system that may be replaced, it is possible that an alternative will have to be found.

Technology overseas

  4.6  Annex 34 describes the systems in use by Airline Liaison Officers serving abroad.

Current and future projects

  4.7  Work is underway to extend the Home Office corporate desktop application (POISE) to 80 per cent of Immigration service staff to improve the availability of Team Based Caseworking and Asylum Caseworking database IT. These systems will improve the ability of the IS to meet its objectives in the end-to-end processing of asylum seekers and thus to meet the Government's objectives of a Fairer, Faster, Firmer immigration control.

  4.8  The Immigration Service has examined and continues to examine the possible use of different forms of technology available for the automated clearance of certain arriving passengers.

  4.9  The Automated Fingerprint Identification System detailed in Annex 31 is a further example of the use of technology to strengthen the controls at ports of entry.


  5.1  Changes to the operation of immigration controls in terms of supporting technology are detailed in Section 4. The background to the operation of more flexible control arrangements by virtue of provisions contained within the Immigration and Asylum 1999 is provided in Sections 1 and 2 and Annex 12. Reference to EU matters is made in Sections 14 and 15.

  5.2  Forthcoming Human Rights and Race Relations legislation will have bearing upon the activities of IND. The Human Rights Act 1998, which will incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law, is planned to come into force on 2 October 2000. The new appeals system provided for in Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 is also due to be implemented on that date. Section 65 of the 1999 Act gives a right of appeal on human rights grounds following a decision relating to an individual's entitlement to enter or remain in the United Kingdom. IND are satisfied that its legislation and procedures are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights but assessment of compatibility is ongoing. A comprehensive training programme is being undertaken for all staff in IND including Chief Immigration Officers at ports. The Race Relations (Amendment) Bill (RRAB) currently going through Parliament, extends the Race Relations Act 1976 to include all public authorities including IND. The RRA makes it illegal to discriminate either directly or indirectly on the basis of race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin. Clause 1 19(c) of the RRAB provides that discrimination on the basis of nationality or ethnic or national origin will not be unlawful for the purposes of the RRAB if such acts are required by specific immigration legislation or authorised by ministers. In addition, the RRAB is creating a Race Monitor, which will introduce independent oversight (including annual reports to Parliament) on the operation of the immigration exemption in the RRAB. (Paragraph 2 of the Immigration Rules HC395 states: "Immigration Officers, Entry Clearance Officers and all staff of the Home Office Immigration and Nationality Department will carry out their duties without regard to the race, colour or religion of persons seeking to enter or remain in the United Kingdom".)


  6.1  Most immigration control work involves risk profiling; assessments must be made of the bona fides of the person being examined and a considered decision taken. The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 has provided the power to introduce greater operational flexibility, to use discretion to deal with certain types and groups of passengers without close examination. Hand in hand with this, however, comes a requirement to put procedures in place to match the resources available to the risks identified with such a policy. We hope, in the near future, to establish an intelligence structure and doctrine throughout the country based on the National Criminal Intelligence Service's Intelligence Model (NIM). This will formalise and focus intelligence efforts to ensure that there is an appropriate knowledge base on which to build prioritised effort. The model ensures high standards, commonality of approach and proper accountability.

6.2  How the NIM works

  Each port or district has a Tasking and Co-ordination Group (probably headed by an inspector) which oversees an Intelligence Unit. The T&CG decides both the strategic and tactical operation. The group tasks the Intelligence Unit, which is staffed according to need. The strategy is based on a Strategic Assessment of activity and requirements at the port. At smaller ports we would begin to move away from systematic attendance based on proper risk assessments. In other words, maximising our effectiveness whilst minimising the burden on legitimate travellers. The T&C Group set priorities in accordance with the organisation's objectives. Local groups are driven by the priorities identified in their own strategic assessments which should be a picture of their business, detail actual events on the ground, examine the nature and extent of the problem and identify the main trends and threats. Thus advance passenger information, refusal records, routes, CLA data (including that from Airline Liaison Officers), surveillance activity, problem flights, and any operations undertaken would be detailed and analysed in a strategic assessment peculiar to the individual port. The local T&C Groups are the first management level overseeing the intelligence cycle. The second level is a committee of all heads of T&C Groups to link the organisation's strategy to local groups. Third level management is provided by the IND Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee. A scoping study is about to be undertaken to determine how the NIM structure will apply to port operations, how to develop common systems for accessing advance passenger information, how the arrangements will be managed effectively, what resources will be required and what training is necessary. The study is due to be completed by 31 July 2000.

  6.3  All of the information necessary to draw a strategic picture is already there. We shall simply co-ordinate it in a more structured manner. At airports attention is paid to mounting close surveillance of flights identified as having carried inadequately documented arrivals in the past. Airline Liaison Officers are an effective extension to this system. Efforts to identify those who arrive without documents or from unknown destinations are extensive, where resources permit, but are not always successful. Closed circuit television monitoring the "airside" areas of terminals would undoubtedly assist. At seaports, similar activity is undertaken to identify vehicles involved in smuggling people. As airports become more secure, the pressures on seaports, which are more difficult to manage, will increase.

  6.4  Staffing constraints and other pressures have detracted from local intelligence efforts in the recent past but there is an acceptance throughout the IS that a greater capability to assess risks, spot trends and disrupt/displace damaging activity is necessary. Although databases already exist these will need to be extended and linked to form a national intelligence database (which needs to be ECHR and data protection legislation compliant) that all local intelligence officers have access to. Once these structures are in place we will be better placed to; determine which flights might be dealt with flexibly; which areas need work to disrupt smugglers; which employers locally are using workers in breach of their conditions and will be in a position to be proactive rather than just responding once a problem has become widespread.

6.5  Informants

  There have always been individuals willing to give information to IND about those abusing the system and significant work is put into evaluating and disseminating this information to enable officers on the control and in-country to question the subject of the information. Frequently the information will involve organisations and events that will occur overseas and we are able to pass this information to authorities abroad with a request for their assistance. Very often this is provided, and disruption to an organisation or event is achieved.

  6.6  The Immigration Service does not use paid informants. It receives literally thousands of pieces of information, some attributable but most from anonymous sources. Only when the information can be checked against official records or verified from an independent source is its use considered. The level of information will vary from an anonymous telephone call that cannot be verified to a thoroughly investigated intelligence package provided by an enforcement office that leads to the arrest and prosecution of a major organiser.


  7.1  The White Paper (Annex 17[4]), identified areas of Immigration Service business which merited modernisation and change. Some such changes required new or amendment to existing legislation. Provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, particularly those relating to more flexible control arrangements and the civil penalty, have instigated programmes of organisational and operational change within the Immigration Service.

  7.2  Certain powers and provisions of the new legislation have yet to be commenced or to take effect and operational changes are ongoing. Continuous evaluation is being carried out to ensure that effective systems, processes and resource arrangements are in place to allow optimum benefit to be derived from the new legislation, and to ensure that the cohesive, integrated strategy advanced in the aforementioned White Paper can be delivered.


  8.1  Entry Clearance Officers (ECOs) are posted abroad to issue visas/entry clearance to intending travellers. They spend a considerable proportion of their time interviewing applicants and making decisions in accordance with the Immigration Rules, drafting explanatory statements and dealing with correspondence. Some ECOs may have responsibility for the management of locally employed staff and office administration.

  8.2  Entry Clearance Managers (ECMs) are responsible for overseeing the operation of visa sections in accordance with FCO Guidance on "Best Practice", ensuring efficient and effective systems and procedures. They are responsible for the management of UK based and locally engaged staff. Their work also involves the supervision of entry clearance work, offering advice and guidance to staff on individual applications or explanatory statements, preparing drafts for senior managers at post on individual cases and dealing with MPs and Ministerial Correspondence. They will also oversee the visa section's management information systems.

  8.3  On 5 June 2000 responsibility for the management of the Entry Clearance Operation as a whole will move to the new FCO/Home Office Joint Entry Clearance Unit (Annex 26).

  8.4  There are 164 visa issuing posts overseas, employing in the region of 300 UK based staff, from both the Home Office and Foreign Office, and 700 locally engaged staff.

  8.5  The purpose of entry clearance is to regulate the entry to, and settlement in, the UK of those who require, or apply for clearance before travelling. In the last financial year about 1.5 million visa applications were made, of which about 90,000 were refused. A list of countries whose nationals require a UK visa is contained within Annex 35.[5]

  8.6  In addition to the above there are currently 20 Airline Liaison Officers posted overseas. The primary role of the Airline Liaison Officer is to provide training, assistance and guidance to airlines on whether passengers seeking to travel to the UK are adequately documented. ALOs specifically help airlines to decide whether the travel documents held by passengers are both valid and genuine, and also if passengers require a UK visa. The decision on whether to carry a passenger remains with the airline. Annex 23 details the background to the ALO operation and lists their current locations.

  8.7  The Immigration Service also has a liaison officer in Paris (Annex 28).

  8.8  HM Customs and Excise (Strategy Division) advise that it has no United Kingdom staff serving abroad in support of United Kingdom border controls.


  9.1  There is extensive and detailed evidence of the involvement of organised crime in clandestine and other illegal entry to the United Kingdom. Action to frustrate their activities centres on the IND Intelligence Section (INDIS) and the Organised Immigration Crime Section (comprising mainly immigration officers) at NCIS both of which target the major illegal immigration networks. At present, over 100 operational projects are ongoing, perhaps 10-12 of these target major criminals. They focus on a wide range of abuse with clandestine entry and the trafficking of women for vice having high priorities. Acting jointly with NCIS, National Crime Squad and the Organised Crime Group at New Scotland Yard, several successes have been achieved over the past two years. But many of the principals involved reside outside the jurisdiction of the British and EU courts. Disruption is, therefore, a more viable alternative to arrest and prosecution.

  9.2  Worldwide, migrant smuggling and trafficking is now worth between $12 billion (IOM estimate) and $30 billion (US sources). Migrants pay £1,500 from Romania, £6-9,000 from India to a top rate of £16,000 from China ($30,000 from China to the United States). The fee varies with the distance travelled, mode of transport and whether extra services are offered (for example, guarantees of repeated attempts until entry is secured, work on arrival). Cost for a well forged passport can be £2,000. Profits are approaching drug smuggling levels and with lower criminal penalties if caught, there are few disincentives.

  9.3  Some groups specialise in bringing in illegal migrants/asylum seekers whilst others were or have become involved in other criminal activity, which can be immigration related (for example, fraud, prostitution, pickpocketing, aggressive begging, extortion). They are arranging arrivals on a daily basis, perhaps two or three people through an airport, sometimes up to 50 at a time in a truck or railway freight car.

  9.4  Traditional border controls undoubtedly have a deterrent effect (if an asylum claim is not the immediate intention) and organisers have had to become more inventive. The more barriers we put up, the more inventive they become, perversely making it more difficult to combat their activities. In August last year, the Canadian Authorities dealt with five maritime smuggling incidents in which the Chinese organisers had hollowed out the inside of barely seaworthy crafts and sailed across the pacific to discharge over 700 illegal immigrants on the western shore of Canada. The gangs have infrastructures, communications and surveillance capabilities far in excess of anything that the law enforcement agencies in transit and source countries can muster and the ease with which they operate across international boundaries, means that the chances of their activities diminishing is negligible.


  10.1  The available statistics on clandestine entry are provided in Annex 36 but, by its very nature, the true picture cannot be quantified. We are aware of incidents involving clandestine entry by light aircraft and small boats but the scale of this activity is not known. It is, however, likely to increase with tighter controls at major ports.

10.2  Main methods of entry

Unaccompanied rail freight

Mainly Romanian nationals from Italy. But we are receiving early indications that air freight is also being used to leave China.

Accompanied freight

  Heavy Goods Vehicles. Some drivers may collude in this movement and they are the individuals targeted by the new civil penalty. There are also cases of clandestine entrants entering a ferry concealed in a lorry, leaving the vehicle once on board and then disembarking as foot passengers. Although originally clandestine, they are not included in the statistics as they are treated as "inadequately documented arrivals". Significant numbers have also entered by unaccompanied trailers brought to continental ports, left, tugged onto a United Kingdom-bound ferry, tugged off and left to await collection at a UK port.


  Either concealed within the luggage area of a coach or actually hidden in a vehicle specially designed to conceal large numbers of persons. Vehicles have been encountered especially adapted to enable the seats to be hydraulically raised so that large numbers of clandestine entrants can hide beneath.

Camper vans

  Concealed in a camper van or specially designed compartment.

Car boots

  One or two individuals concealed inside a car.

  The majority of clandestine entrants seek entry in accompanied freight, assisted by facilitators or networks. Those encountered in car boots may be opportunists or persons closely known to the facilitator.


  11.1  Data relating to the number of vehicles searched whilst looking for illegal entrants and the number reported by carriers is not currently collected. Illegal entry statistics are included in Annex 36.


  12.1  Details of changes to the Carriers Liability legislation and statistics available are provided in Annex 37. The number of Civil Penalty notices issued since April 2000, with details of how the charges are administered are given in Annex 38.


  13.1  Although we are currently unable to provide data on individuals who were granted asylum or exceptional leave to remain who originally entered the country illegally, it is anticipated that with new data collation systems in prospect, such information may be available in the future. Details of the number of applications for asylum received at ports of entry in the UK (from 1995 to 1999) are provided in Annex 19. The number of individuals granted asylum or exceptional leave to remain in these years is shown separately.

  13.2  Annex 36 provides statistics available for illegal entrants from 1995 to 1999. It is generally acknowledged that one of the principal motives behind attempted clandestine entry is the intention to claim asylum.


  14.1  The Government considers that controls at the frontiers are central to our approach to controlling immigration to the United Kingdom. It wishes to continue to exploit the advantages of our island geography, and considers that border checks at ports and airports, where traffic is naturally channelled, are the most effective way to control immigration. Frontier controls also contribute to the detection of serious crime. The current system of frontier controls does not distinguish between external and internal frontiers; it is not practicable, therefore, for us to operate a specific regime of external frontier controls.

  14.2  The United Kingdom has a tradition of personal liberty within the country, without internal checks or identify cards. Moving controls away from our borders would be a major departure from this, and the Government is not convinced that it would be beneficial in terms of effectiveness, or of community relations. It has therefore been made clear that we will not take part in Schengen arrangements for the removal of internal border controls. We are however seeking participation in all other aspects of the Schengen arrangements (ie provisions on police, drugs and judicial co-operation, including the Schengen Information System (SIS)).

  14.3  The SIS is a key part of the police co-operation arrangements under Schengen. It will provide the UK with a useful tool in combating cross border criminality. It contains data on, for example, stolen vehicles and documents, missing and wanted persons, which will be helpful to UK law enforcement authorities. Entries onto the system of wanted persons will provide the means for a fast-track "extradition" procedure.

  14.4  The United Kingdom does not intend to have access to SIS data on third country nationals inadmissible to the Schengen area, since this is linked to the operation of the Schengen external frontier regime, in which we are not participating. But we will maintain existing channels of communication with our European counterparts on immigration issues to ensure that we have access to any information or intelligence relevant to the operation of our own controls.

  14.5  Illegal immigration is a serious problem for all EU countries, but it is felt that the United Kingdom is better placed to tackle it through frontier controls because of its island geography.


  15.1  The continued application of controls at the internal border is not based on concerns about the controls exercised by the Schengen States. It is based on the assessment that it is best for the UK to retain national control over immigration policy. This Government firmly believes that the United Kingdom's island status means that we can most effectively check immigration at our natural frontiers.

  15.2  It cannot be assumed that the Schengen external frontier is a fail-safe protection against illegal immigration into the UK. A third country national may enter the Schengen area entirely legally but might overstay; or might simply fail to qualify for admission to the UK.

  15.3  Adequacy of Schengen border control arrangements is monitored on an on-going basis by Schengen Evaluation Group, which makes any recommendations for necessary improvements. UK is a member of this Group.

  15.4  As a result of the UK's entry into the EEC, the UK's border controls were reconfigured to permit EEA nationals to enter via a separate channel at ports of entry. Upon accession of new Member States to the European Union, their nationals are also able to use the EEA channel. Such nationals do not require leave to enter the United Kingdom, but are admitted under Article 3 of the EEA Order. Their passports or identity cards are subject only to a brief check on arrival to confirm validity and to ensure rightful ownership.

  15.5  Discussion on improvements to the EU external borders (in terms of training, detection of false documents etc) continues in the Frontiers and False Documents Working Groups. The United Kingdom plays a full part in the work of the EU Working Groups dealing with immigration and asylum issues and taking forward the commitments made at Tampere. This is highlighted by the cross-Pillar work of the High Level Working Group on Asylum and Migration, which has drawn up Action Plans on a number of major countries of origin of migrants to the EU and is currently working on the implementation of measures in the foreign policy and development areas as well as immigration and asylum.

  15.6  EU Member States exchange information on illegal immigration and asylum issues in groups such as Cirefi and Cirea, providing the UK with valuable information on migration trends and the processes and procedures adopted by other countries in countering those trends (see Annex 30).


  16.1  The Convention relating to the Status of Refugees was adopted by the United Nations on 28 July 1951 and entered into force on 21 April 1954. The basic definition of a refugee is set out in Article 1A(2) of the Convention, as one who as a result of events occurring before January 1951 and owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

  16.2  The 1951 Convention was written very much with the after effects of World War II in mind and its scope was limited to claims relating to events predating 1 January 1951. A Protocol drawn up in 1967 reflected the realisation that the refugee problem was ongoing and not limited to Europe. The Protocol therefore allowed for the scope of the Convention to be extended to include events outside of Europe and occurring after 1 January 1951. The United Kingdom acceded to the Protocol on 11 March 1968. The UK is also a signatory to a number of other international instruments including the European Convention on Human Rights, which the Human Rights Act incorporates into UK law.

  16.3  As a signatory to both the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, the UK has an obligation to consider all asylum applications made within the UK or at our ports of entry. Each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits by specially trained staff to determine whether the applicant has a well-founded fear of persecution for any of the reasons set out in the Convention (ie race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion). If a person does not qualify for recognition as a refugee and there are no humanitarian reasons why they should remain in the UK he/she will be expected to leave. In the 12 months to December 1999, 7,600 failed asylum seekers were either removed from the UK or departed voluntarily; a significant increase on previous years.

  16.4  Article 1F(c) of the 1951 Convention allows for the exclusion from its protection of those who have been guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations. In 1996, in a UK Government sponsored move, the UN reaffirmed that "acts, methods and practices of terrorism are contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations" and declared that "knowingly financing, planning and inciting terrorist acts are also contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations". The UN Declaration thereby provided a basis for excluding terrorists from the protection of the 1951 Convention. To date it has been relied on to exclude under Article 1F(c) five asylum applicants known to be members of terrorist organisations. (In all of these cases, however, deportation has been precluded by Article 3 ECHR.) The use of the Declaration as a basis for exclusions under Article 1F(c) has not yet been challenged at appeal.

  16.5  Any request for an amendment to the 1951 Convention would need to be put to the UN Secretary-General. It would then fall to the General Assembly, not just the states party to the Convention, to recommend what action, if any, would need to be taken. Any revision of the 1951 Convention itself would be a huge and time-consuming task in which the many different perspectives of signatories and potential signatories would come into play. The Government does not believe that embarking on such a process at this stage would be the most effective way to modernise the approach to protection and asylum issues internationally. It is clear however that by itself the Convention does not deal with all the problems that arise today in respect of the movements of displaced persons or the use and abuse of asylum procedures. On the one hand, the 1951 Convention is now only one of a range of international instruments under which protection may be sought, including for example the Convention against Torture and the European Convention on Human Rights. Within this overall body of international law some provisions overlap, others do not. On the other hand, there has been growing abuse of the institution of asylum by unfounded applicants and by the traffickers in human beings who exploit them. There is therefore a need for concerted international action to tackle these problems and deal with those matters which are not covered by the various conventions themselves.

  16.6  The Government will therefore continue to work closely with other European partners, with other like-minded states and with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, to develop an approach towards the protection of refugees and the effective operation of asylum procedures that is in line with modern requirements. In the European Union, the conclusions of the Tampere Council provide an agenda for action to bring the procedures in member states closer together, providing a clearer common standard for deciding issues of protection and helping to minimise the gaps and differences that encourage opportunistic claims to asylum by those who are not in genuine need of it. More generally, the Government is in discussion with a range of like-minded countries about the common problems faced by the institution of asylum, with a view to developing a common dialogue with the UNHCR and other international bodies with relevant responsibilities about the need for further initiatives to ensure that protection is available to those—but only those—who meet the internationally agreed criteria.

  16.7  The Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 introduces fundamental changes to the asylum system and includes measures to discourage unfounded applications, while providing protection for those in genuine need. The changes include new measures providing support principally in kind, rather than cash; the dispersal of asylum seekers around the UK to relieve the current pressure on the South East; a streamlined appeals system to reduce the scope for delay by applicants pursuing multiple avenues of appeal; a new civil penalty for carrying clandestine entrants; and improving the quality of advice available to applicants by regulating immigration advisers.


  16.8  The cases of Adan, Aitseguer and Subaskaran (CA 23 July 1999) concern differing interpretations of the 1951 Convention among EU Member States. Our application for leave to appeal to the House of Lords in Adan and Aitseguer was granted in December. Subaskaran is no longer part of the proceedings because all the relevant issues are covered by the cases of Ms Adan (a Somali who travelled to the UK via Germany) and Mr Aitseguer (an Algerian who arrived via France). The judgment relates to the safety of France and Germany as destinations for third country removals under the Dublin Convention where the asylum claim involves persecution by non-State agents. The judgment focused on the particular question of whether the interpretation of the 1951 Convention adopted in France and Germany were , in the view of the English courts, correct in law.

  16.9  France and Germany limit the grant of refugee status to cases where the persecution alleged can be attributed to the State (the "accountability theory"). If a claim is based on persecution by non-State agents it must be shown to be tolerated or encouraged by the State, or at least that the State is unwilling to offer protection against it. So, refugee status cannot be granted where there is no effective State authority, as in a situation of civil war. The UK and others, including UNHCR, recognise persecution by non-State agents where the State is unwilling or unable to provide protection, whether or not competent State authorities exist (the "protection theory"). But, in France and Germany, as in the United Kingdom, other forms of protection are also available. In March the European Court of Human Rights declared the case of Iyadurai to be inadmissible. The Court was satisfied that alternative forms of protection available under German law meant that on his return there under the Dublin Convention, Germany would fulfil its obligations towards Iyadurai under Article 2, 3 and 8 of the ECHR.

  16.10  Protracted disputes about other Member States' approaches to the Refugee Convention are undermining the Dublin Convention and leaving asylum procedures open to abuse. Section 11 of the Immigration and Asylum Act provides that other EU Member States are safe third countries of asylum whose authorities and independent courts can be trusted to deal appropriately with asylum applicants who are their responsibility under international law. This is due to come into force on 2 October.


  A progress update on the recommendations within the National Audit Office Report, "Entry into the United Kingdom" HC 204 (Annex 9[6]), has been commissioned within the Immigration Service for the purposes of this inquiry, and a report will ensue in due course.


  A brief summary of the physical controls exercised at ports in the United Kingdom by the police, provided by the Terrorism and Protection Unit of the Home Office Organised Crime Directorate, is given at Annex 39.

22 May 2000

1.IND Organisational Chart.
2.Joint Business Plan 2000-2001.*
3.IS Organisational Chart.*
4.ISPD Staffing Figures 1996-2000.*
5.Passenger Figures 1995-99 and future projections.
6.ISED staffing figures.*
7.Budget allocations for recent years.
8.ISPD Operating Plans 1998-2000.*
9.NAO Report 1995 HC204.*
10.Casework Figures by port 1999-2000 and national totals 1998-2000.*
11.Details of staffed, small and hybrid ports.*
12.Background to Flexible Control Arrangements.
13.Flexibility and Passenger Information Consultation Paper.*
14.Background to the Civil Penalty Provisions of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
15.Civil Penalty Codes of Practice Consultation Paper.*
16.Channel Tunnel Fixed Link.
17.White Paper "Fairer, Faster and Firmer: A Modern Approach to Immigration and Asylum"*
18.Provision of facilities at ports and charging for additional services Consultation Paper.*
19.Asylum Applications 1995-99.
20.Current Asylum Initiatives.
21.Challenges to UK Border Controls (Intelligence and Forgery).
22.Facilitation Support Unit.
23.Airline Liaison Officer Network.
24.Forgery Detection Statistics.
25.Accommodation and Facilities.
26.The Joint Entry Clearance Unit.
27.Statutory Gateways.
28.Co-operation (Intelligence).
29.Co-operation (Forgery).
30.Liaison with other countries-migration and asylum.
31.Automated Fingerprint Identification System.
32.Warnings Index.
33.National Forgery Section—technology.
34.Technology Overseas To Assist ALOs.
35.Visa Nationals.*
36.Notices of Illegal Entry.
37.Carriers Liability Statistics.
38.Civil Penalty Statistics.
39.Summary of Physical Controls Exercised by the Police (plus Annex).

* Not printed.

1   Not printed. Back

2   Not printed. Back

3   Not printed. Back

4   Not printed. Back

5   Not printed. Back

6   Not printed. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 31 January 2001