April 3 2008 Launch of Britain's new unified Border Agency
Border, immigration, customs and visa checks will be united from today in the country's new UK Border Agency, the Home Office has announced.
The new UK Border Agency, established as a shadow agency of the Home Office, will protect our borders, control migration for the benefit of the country, prevent border tax fraud, smuggling and immigration crime and implement quick and fair decisions.
The new 25,000 strong organisation includes more than 9,000 warranted officers operating in local communities, at the border and across 135 countries worldwide, with wide ranging search, seizure and detention powers.
Over the next four months 1,000 frontline staff will be conferred with both immigration and customs powers and staff in England and Wales will be equipped with police-like powers as set out in the UK Borders Act 2007. A full merger will follow new legislation presented to the House in the autumn.
The UK Border Agency will link with the 3,000 police stationed at ports and airports following a new agreement with the Association of Chief Police Officers. Talks are continuing on closer integration.
Announcing the launch of the Agency, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"The UK Border Agency will help strengthen protection of our border. With tough customs, immigration and police-like powers UK Border Agency officers will be better equipped than ever to guard our ports and airports, protecting the country from illegal immigration, organised crime and terrorism.
"This 25,000 strong force will work both at home and abroad to tackle smuggling of people and goods into Britain using intelligence, new technology and wide-ranging powers and I am confident it will help strengthen policing at the border.
"Already taxpayers can see our investment in new technology paying off and creating a ring of security around Britain. Fingerprints are now being taken from all visa applicants to the UK, this year we will increase police, customs and immigration checks against visitors travelling through our ports, and we will see the roll-out of ID cards for foreign national from November."
Tough targets were announced for the new agency in its business plan published today. They include targets to:
expel 5,000 foreign national prisoners from Britain this year, up from 4,200 last year;
sustain last year's increase in the seizure of class A drugs by seizing at least 2,400 kilograms of cocaine and 550 kilograms of heroin by April 2009;
increase by 50 per cent the number of asylum cases concluded in less than six months;
extend the UK's visas regime to cover a larger proportion of the world's population; and
increase detention capacity by 20 per cent over the next two years to help increase the number of immigration offenders we can remove from the country.
The Rt Hon Jane Kennedy MP, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said:
"The new Borders Agency will provide a crucial service to the UK. It will protect tax revenues and assist international trade and the passage of essential goods at the frontier.
"Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) staff will be taking their energy, skills and enthusiasm across to this essential Government agency and I wish them every success."
The new agency will create a single border intelligence service to bring together overseas risk assessment units, airline liaison officers and customs and immigration intelligence officers based around the globe. This will work together with a new £1bn screening system for travellers to the UK. A trial of this system has already led to more than 1,000 alerts and 200 arrests.
The board of the new Agency will be chaired by Chief Executive Lin Homer, and will include Chief Constable Roger Baker of Essex Police and Customs Commissioner Mike Eland.
The shake up of the immigration service has already begun to reap results, including:
more than 1.4 million fingerprint visas issued, checking applicants against watch lists identifying more than 1,375 identity swaps;
more than 1 million lorries and cars searched in northern France;
3.5 million vehicles screened for radiological material;
last year alone Britain's border controls in France and Belgium barred 18,000 illegal immigrants from reaching the UK;
the pilot scheme for the Government's electronic borders system has already checked nearly 50 million passenger movements against police, customs and immigration databases before they arrive in the UK, leading to over 1,000 arrests and the seizure of thousands of smuggled cigarettes and kilos of smuggled drugs.
in 2007 a record number of foreign national prisoners, 4,200, 80 per cent more than the previous year, and around 14,000 failed asylum seekers and almost 50,000 non-asylum cases were removed, the highest level since 2002; and
during 06/07 detection officers seized 20 per cent more class A drugs with over 2,300 kilograms of cocaine and over 500 kilograms of heroin stopped at the border.
Source is the Border and Immigration Agency
Contact Ambler Collins should you have further enquiries on immigration to the UK, NZ, Australia or the USA
visa, we will undertake a complimentary assessment of your eligibility. Email us at;