80 Border Force Staff to be Drafted to Heathrow Airport
Immigration Minister Damian Green has announced that 80 extra Border Force staff will be drafted to London Heathrow Airport in order to avoid the passport control chaos of the last week happening again. He says the issue is that the wait is too long on certain days and at certain times, which they are addressing.
This comes as Prime Minister David Cameron told ministers to get control of the situation amid warnings that the hours passengers have had to wait in line is damaging the UK’s reputation. Negative press isn’t what the country needs with the Olympic Games coming this summer - particularly when it’s about the country’s main hub.
London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills has warned that damage is already being done to the image foreigners get of the country. They have set about using the Olympics to promote Britain around the world, and it’s not a good sign if they aren’t friendly at the borders.
While the prime minister’s official spokesman said earlier this week that staff numbers isn’t the only reason behind the long queues, figures obtained by Labour paint a different picture. They reveal that the Border Force’s workforce fell from 8,874 to 7,988 over the last two years until the end of March - which is a loss of nearly 900 staff.
In addition to this, the agency is still planning to reduce its staff numbers. There are due to be 7,759 workers by March next year, 7,476 by March 2014 and 7,322 by March 2015. After five years of cuts, the agency will lose a total 1,552 staff, which is over 17% of the workforce.