Immigration Controls: Heathrow Airport

Home Office written question – answered on 21st December 2020.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the Answer of 2 December 2020 to Question 120898 on Heathrow Airport, what recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the level of resource and support provided to Border Force to ensure that it is able to effectively discharge its duties at Heathrow within agreed service level agreements (a) over the Christmas period and (b) at the end of the transition period.

Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what estimate she has made of the maximum queue time for non-EEA passengers at Heathrow Airport during the period of national restrictions in England from 5 November 2020 to 2 December 2020.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Border Force is confident that resources to meet anticipated overall operational requirements are in place for the Christmas and transition period, with Border Force recruiting sufficient additional frontline staff and continuing to build staffing levels during 2020 across all critical ports. This will ensure full operational readiness at the UK border to meet the requirements from the end of transition.

Resource and staffing requirements at every port, including Heathrow, are continually reviewed by Border Force working with airport operators including Heathrow Airport Ltd, and resources are deployed flexibly as and when they are required.

Wait times in airports can be caused by a number of factors, not just related to resourcing. This includes the volume of immigration case working, additional support, checks in relation to Covid-19, and specific security activity. Our teams seek to balance this range of tasking each day. Whilst mindful of passenger wait times and experience, our primary objective is to ensure the security of the border.

New Border Force staff receive a comprehensive package of training prior to operational deployment. comprehensive guidance and training plans have been developed to upskill BF frontline officers in new policy, process and system changes for the end of the Transition Period. Initial training is further reinforced and supplemented by on the job mentoring once new staff have been deployed to UK ports.

Figures for the queue time for non-EEA passengers during the period from 5 November 2020 2 December 2020 are yet to be published.

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