Security checks missed at Birmingham Airport

By Laura Payne Thursday 28 February 2013 Updated: 07/03 09:51

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Birmingham Airport. 49.010.040.sol.jm2

HUNDREDS of passengers passed through security at Birmingham Airport without being properly checked.

Between January and September last year 278 passengers went through passport control while scanners which read biometric passports were switched off.

The problem has been blamed partly on a lack of training of temporary staff who were on duty.

The numbers were revealed in an independent report by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine who carried out a follow-up inspection after findings last year showed that 500,000 people walked through passport control across Britain without proper checks being made.

Mr Vine said Border Forcer took action following the inspection to ensure checks are made in the future and other security checks were carried out on the 278 passengers.

The report also found conflicting guidance was in place in relation to the action staff should take when intercepting passengers suspected of customs offences.

Mr Vine said: "I was concerned to find that in the months before the inspection, checks on the biometric chips within passports had not been carried out on 278 occasions.

"Equally concerning was that these breaches of the Operating Mandate only came to light through our inspection and were not identified by Border Force's management.

"I was also disappointed to find that problems continue to exist in relation to the secondary control area, which deals with the interceptions of passengers suspected of customs offences.

"I found conflicting guidance was in place in regard to what action staff should take when intercepting passengers suspected of customs offences and when conducting covert bag searches."

Mr Vine added staff demonstrated excellent customer service when interacting with passengers.

A spokesman for the Border Force said: "As the report acknowledges this is one of a number of checks which Border Force officers conduct to verify identity.

"All criminal and immigration checks remained in place. We have already taken action to ensure that this cannot happen again."

BAGS were searched at Birmingham Airport without the owners' knowledge.

Between October 2011 and September 2012 1,147 seizures were made as a result of covert baggage searches at the airport but there was no data to show how many searches were conducted where nothing was seized.

The revelations were made in the report by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine.

It said: "The absence of these records meant that no assurance could be provided to demonstrate that this power was being used in a lawful, proportionate and controlled manner."

A spokesman for the Border Force said: "Border Force protects the public and our economy by stopping the importation and exportation of illegal and restricted goods.

"Searching baggage, including when the owner is not present, is a legal and proportionate response to this issue. Any such searches must be authorised by a senior officer.

"We have already taken action on the recommendations the Chief Inspector made in his report."

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