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Whoops? Thousands Entered the UK Without Passing Through Immigration Last Year.

A government audit has revealed that human errors have potentially allowed thousands of airline passengers to erroneously enter the country without first stopping at immigration checkpoints.

A recent report by the Home Office has found that thousands of airline passengers may have entered the UK without passing through border control checkpoints due to human error. While passengers who entered the country without the legally required vetting upon arrival were, in all cases, identified and later screened in person, the audit revealed a substantial number of incidents in which passengers bypassed immigration screening at UK airports simply because workers misdirected passengers entering the country.

A new proposal intends to sharply curtail incidents in which passengers are inadvertently allowed to circumvent the established immigration process on arrival. Airlines and airports could soon face stiff civil penalties for mistakes that allow passengers to skip border screening.

“By creating circumstances in which passengers can bypass immigration controls, the integrity of the UK’s border is undermined,” Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis wrote in a Home Office consultation calling for civil penalties of as much as £50,000 for misdirecting passengers who ultimately fail to pass through checkpoints. ”Border Force takes recovery action to locate the passengers and undertakes checks retrospectively on every misdirected passenger, creating considerable extra work.”

Airport operators and airlines in the UK argue that the steep fines are unnecessary, noting that of the millions of passengers who enter the UK each year, only a statistically very small number of passengers have ever been misdirected. Aviation industry trade organizations such as Airlines UK, note that the industry has an unblemished record of working in good faith with officials on security and immigration issues.

The Home Office doesn’t appear willing to rely on just the goodwill of airlines and airport operators. Instead, officials seem intent on giving serious teeth to rules making certain border control policies are strictly adhered to in the future. “We are determined to eradicate these errors and believe a civil penalty is a vital tool in ensuring this happens,” a Home Office spokesperson maintained in comments to the Telegraph this week.


[Image: Pixabay]

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