The home secretary’s drive to ensure that full passport checks are carried out at Britain’s borders has only been achieved at the expense of less rigorous screening for illegal migrants and fewer seizures of some types of drugs and weapons, says Whitehall’s spending watchdog.
The National Audit Office reveals today that a “culture of fear” was operating within the recently formed border force, with staff reluctant to report instances when other duties have been neglected in order to tackle passport queues, for fear of the consequences. Any failures to carry out full passport checks have to be reported directly to the home secretary.
Theresa May split the 8,400-strong UK Border Force off from the UK Border Agency in March 2012 after a row over the lifting of some passport checks, which led to the suspension and then resignation of the then UKBA head, Brodie Clark. The new organisation ran into immediate trouble in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics when emergency measures had to be taken to deal with passport queues of up to four hours as a result of May’s decision to abandon the “risk-based approach” to checks