UK Border Controls - Home Affairs Committee Contents


UK Border Agency—Interim Operational Instruction—Issue No: BF 01 29 11

Date:    28 July 2011

Subject:   Trial of risk-based processes at the border

Action:    Managers' Cascade

Distribution:  BF

Instruction to Staff:

Border Force operational managers should brief their staff and cascade the enclosed guidance to staff to support implementation of a trial that will enable port managers to deploy their resources more effectively and opportunity to meet the demands of peak summer traffic pressures whilst continuing to focus on other high harm/high risk threats at the border. The trial will commence with effective [sic] from 29 July and operate until mid September. The guidance will support staff in exercising discretion and professional judgement in operating this process. Managers should ensure their familiarise themselves with this guidance in accordance with regional plans.

The escalation options available to managers are set out below and can be implanted for short periods at a time where:

  • Redeployment of staff from other port activity, to manage the PCP in the face of lengthy queues, is not in the interest of dealing with the higher harm/risk threat. So, where for example there are targeted goods activities; there are high risk flights with specific goods issues or where the [sic] are other activities with the balance of risk pointing to a deployment of staff to a secondary activity and not to deploying at the PCP, under these circumstances level two is perfectly appropriate. It is anticipated that level two, in support of the PCP, would be invoked for periods of time (up to several hours), but would be entirely dependent on the risk and balance of activity.

And / or where,

  • A period at level two will avert a more serious or critical impact in the port infrastructure arising from excessive queries i.e. a baggage crisis: risk to passenger health and safety or good order in the arrival hall, disruption to flight schedules and the passengers being held on the aircraft.

We will:

  • Check all arriving passengers (other than as described below) against the Warnings Index and take appropriate action.
  • Only endorse the document and question visa holders, where there is perceived to be a risk.
  • Ensure maximum use of e-gates.
  • ... targeted and/or intelligence led, specific TC tasked operations or required mandatory EU checks.
  • Maintain essential secondary casework. We will exercise discretion with a particular focus on the high risk.
  • Maintain freight searching at the priority juxtaposed locations through increased use of existing contractors and our French partners in order to prevent any influx of clandestines.

We will cease:

  • Routinely opening the chip with EEA passports.
  • Routinely checking all EEA nationals under 18 years against the Warnings Index where they are travelling in clear family units or as part of a school party unless the individual border officer perceives there to be a risk.
  • Secondary (customs) activity based upon general profiling.

This discretion may be exercised at CIO/HO/SO/HMI level. If, for whatever reason, it is considered necessary to take further measures, beyond those listed above, local managers must escalate to the Border Force Duty Director to seek authority for their proposed action.


We believe that adapting our approach to passenger clearance in this way will allow for more effective deployment of staff, maintain border security and improve our customer service, particularly during the peak summer period. A risk-based approach places more emphasis on the discretion and professional judgement of our officers, giving them more time to focus their attention on identifying those seeking to cause the greatest harm to the UK. This guidance, together with current and future intelligence briefings encompassing a range of intelligence products at national and local level, will inform officer's decision making.

New measures are also being introduced to ensure that we test and validate our assessment of risk on a continuing basis, including 'randomised' checks (on which further guidance will follow shortly) and structured risk testing. For assurance purposes we have also included risk-led decisions within our Border Force assurance standards, a new version of which will be published shortly.

previous page contents next page

© Parliamentary copyright 2012
Prepared 19 January 2012