- United States
United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) has recruited more staff to tackle the problem of lengthy queues at the immigration desks at Heathrow airport. But now officials are concerned regarding the competence of these new recruits.
John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, said that instead of improving, the situation is becoming more complicated. He said that the situation is rather getting worse due to the desperate appointment of inexperienced staff at the immigration desks. He said that due to inexperience, the staff lacks confidence which is causing them to slowly process the passengers.
He said that even though the rookie staff isn’t asking as much questions as required. They are still behind their schedules.
As the Olympics are nearing, the congestion at the Heathrow airport is increasing. UKBA has been hiring new as well as old staff to cover up the delays.
Vine said that UK border force is preparing to deal with approximately 100,000 passengers per day due to the fact that the Olympics are just weeks away. And there are lengthy queues at the airport as most of the immigration processing desks are shut.
He said that the officials are concerned regarding the risks they are putting the immigration authorities in to by employing staff who have received only basic training and have no experience whatsoever in handling immigration processing.
Labour MP David Winnick had called the situation a “national embarrassment“of lengthy queues. To avoid this, immigration minister Damian Green vowed to keep all the immigration desks operating at peak hours. Although he declined to provide confirmation if all the desks will be operating at the airport beyond the Olympics.
Those who had retired or had left the job at the immigration processing desks have been drafted in to achieve these goals.
Proper training will also be given to the staff at the Home office and UK border agency so that they can competently operate on the immigration desks, which would be the primary control point, said Mr. Vine.
But the problem of the new staff being low on confidence and experience still persists. Officials say that this is dearly affecting the efficiency and the effectiveness of their work.
The new staff is slow witted and ignores asking all the appropriate questions just to remain as per schedule.
Vine put great emphasis on the proper use of forgery detecting equipments, as the detection levels in Terminal 3 were lower than those of Terminal 4. Some of the staff is crediting this to faulty forgery detection equipment at some of the desks in Terminal 3.
Border Force spokeswoman said, “We are also working with the BAA (airport operator) on improving queue measurement, looking at securing staffing levels for the long term and continued training and mentoring for the contingency staff to ensure they carry out efficient and secure check on passengers.”
She also said that Inspector John Vine has acknowledged the positive addition of extra staff deployed to cover up the extra demand.
“I am deeply concerned that the Border Force staff being placed at immigration desks lack proper training to conduct thorough immigration checks,” said Keith Vaz, Labour chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.
He said that such a situation must be rectified as soon as possible, as millions of more passengers are set to arrive at the airport for the Olympics.
The government, however, was criticized by the Shadow Home secretary Yvette Cooper. She said that the fact that the government is going out of its way to recruit those who were cut off from the staff by it earlier this year is enough for it to admit its failure.
Tags: England, Heathrow Airport, UKBA, United Kingdom Border Agency