(UKBA) Chief Inspector Reports on the Regions.

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The report “Inspection of UK Border Agency operations in Wales and the South West” is the first comprehensive inspection of the UK Border Agency’s regional operations within the UK. Cardiff, Bristol, Holyhead and Plymouth ports were inspected along with enforcement operations in Bristol and Cardiff.

Independent Chief Inspector, John Vine CBE QPM found that Holyhead seaport is recognised by the UK Border Agency as a high risk area for immigration offenders entering the country illegally. However, it has no permanent immigration controls as, like other Welsh ports, all passengers arrive from the Common Travel Area which allows for free movement. He has recommended a comprehensive assessment of risk at Holyhead seaport.

UK Border Agency staff were seen to act in a polite and respectful manner when dealing with customers and displayed resilience and professionalism in the face of difficult tasks. However, there was an overall perception among staff that change was not managed well and staff had raised concerns about the quality of leadership in the region.

Office accommodation at Plymouth and Holyhead seaports was found to be inadequate and the Chief Inspector found several serious issues which did not appear to conform with health and safety regulations. He has recommended that staff at these seaports are provided with adequate, safe accommodation without delay.

Mr Vine said “I was impressed with the enthusiasm and commitment demonstrated by staff in the Wales and South West region however I’m particularly concerned that some staff were expected to work in completely unsatisfactory accommodation. A significant number of staff criticised the quality of leadership and management in the region and such was the  consistency and strength of feeling that I have asked the UK Border Agency to specifically address staff concerns.”

The Independent Chief Inspector’s full report “Inspection of UK Border Agency operations in Wales and the South West” can be viewed at  www.independent.gov.uk/icinspector/news

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