Britain to get new force to control borders

 

The British government plans to set up a new uniformed security force to police Britain's borders, ports and airports, Home Office sources said today.

Details of the force will be unveiled on Tuesday when Home Secretary John Reid is due to announce raft of reforms to the Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) after a series of embarrassing blunders.

Mr Reid is due to announce a doubling by the end of the decade of the amount of money available to the IND to enforce immigration controls from its current £140 million.

"The Home Office feels it needs to transform itself to meet 21st century challenges ... the border control force is about making front line staff more visible, more easily recognisable," one Home Office source said.

Currently, Britain 's borders are policed by a range of different officers.

Responding to the initiative, John Denham, head of the cross-party parliamentary Home Affairs select committee, said uniting them might be a step in the right direction.

"If John Reid is going to bring together the different activities of port police, customs officers and immigration officers, all of whom have an interest in who and what is coming in to the country, that does make sense," Mr Denham told BBC TV.

"If it's simply putting the existing people into a smarter uniform, that won't make much difference."

Mr Denham's committee published a report into the IND today in which it described current efforts to remove illegal immigrants from Britain as "clearly inadequate".

"It is clear that the current rate of removal is not even keeping up with the increase in the number of those not entitled to remain in the UK," the committee said.

"We regard the inability to identify and track individuals who are in breach of immigration rules as a major weakness in the system."

The IND has been under fire since April when it emerged that over 1,000 foreign prisoners were released from British jails and allowed to stay in the country when they should have been considered for deportation.

The British government says it is tackling the problem of illegal immigration but acknowledges it has no clear idea how many illegal migrants are in the country.