EU Passengers and Passport Checks: 16 April 2004

House of Lords written question – answered at on 17 May 2004.

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Photo of Lord Marlesford Lord Marlesford Conservative

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Who took the decision to allow European Union passengers arriving at London Stansted airport between 23.00 hours and midnight on Friday 16 April to pass through immigration without physical inspection of their passports; and on what basis this decision was authorised.

Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State, Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management)

The immigration Service has issued guidance to staff about how the EEA/Swiss control is to be managed at ports and airports, including guidance on the routine handling and examination of documents. The Duty Chief Immigration Officer is responsible for assessing operational constraints and local intelligence in implementing this guidance at ports.

Managers assessed the operational constraints on the evening of 16 April because exceptionally large numbers of travellers returning to the United Kingdom after the Easter break coincided with building work being undertaken in the arrivals hall at Stansted. In combination these factors presented serious risks to the health and safety of both passengers and staff and the possibility of public order difficulties. Therefore exceptional measures to control the situation and ensure the safety of the public were put in place, and normal operations resumed shortly after midnight when the number of arriving passengers diminished.

During the time in question there was a physical inspection of some documents, decisions on whether to do so or not being taken on the basis of an appraisal of the particular traffic in the arrivals hall at the time.

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