Home Secretary visits Britain’s busiest airport
Anti-forgery equipment, drug detection scanners and border control checks were seen first-hand today by the new Home Secretary, Theresa May, when she visited Heathrow airport.
The new Home Secretary was given a tour of Terminal 5, where she met frontline officers from the UK Border Agency and was given a chance to see the latest detection technology in action.
During her airport visit, the Home Secretary saw staff at the border as they checked passports and quizzed passengers. She was also given a demonstration by detection dogs, saw forgery detection equipment and watched as officers used the latest technology to search bags for hidden, smuggled substances.
The Home Secretary was also briefed by the Operation Paladin Unit, a joint UK Border Agency and Metropolitan Police team working at the border and in-country to identify child victims of trafficking and prosecute facilitators.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
“This was a valuable opportunity to meet frontline officers and see first hand the challenging work they carry out every day.
“Keeping Britain’s border secure is a priority for this Government – which is why it is crucial that we have vigilant border staff utilising the latest technology in our fight against the people traffickers, drug smugglers and illegal immigrants determined to come here and cause harm.
“The new Government is committed to introducing a limit on the number of non-EEA migrants who come here to work, contributing to a reduction in net migration back to the levels of the early 1990s – tens of thousands not hundreds of thousands. If this is to happen successfully, our border must be stronger than ever before.”
Border Agency successes at Heathrow include:
* a 30-year-old Nigerian man who was caught in Terminal 5 with 1kg of cocaine, which had been swallowed in 95 packages after officers became suspicious of his story and behaviour;
* three passengers attempting to smuggle over 50,000 cigarettes into the country in their suitcases in a single day;
* officers stopping more than 14 attempts to use forged or stolen documents to enter the UK illegally in a week. These comprised:
– five cases of impersonation of the rightful holder of the document;
– four cases of substituted passport photographs;
– three cases of substituted passport photograph pages;
– one case of a falsified UK visa; and
– one case of a fraudulently obtained UK passport.
The latter case involved a 54-year-old Bangladeshi man found with a fraudulently obtained United Kingdom passport of a 73-year-old. He had originally entered the UK ten years earlier using a passport in the same false identity. This had been obtained for him by an agent. He had no family in the UK, and was refused and removed to Bangladesh the next day.