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Media factsheet: Border Force

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The work of Border Force:

  • Border Force’s mission is to secure the UK border.
  • Officers work at around 140 sea and air ports across the UK and overseas to ensure the smooth flow of people and goods over the border.  In doing so they help to support business and tourism which are vital to the nation’s prosperity.
  • Security and identity checks are carried out on 100% of passengers arriving at the UK border on scheduled services together with intelligence-led checks at smaller ports and airfields.
  • Last year, nearly 144 million individuals entered the UK. Whenever there is reason to suspect criminality, we carry out rigorous work to stop illegal immigration and smuggling.
  • Over 30,000 individuals were detected at the juxtaposed ports last year.
  • Border Force uses advance data to process the movements of over 280 million passengers and crew a year, both inbound and outbound, and last year prevented 2,846 passengers from travelling to the UK.

Clandestines, juxtaposed controls and use of technology

 Border Force conducts rigorous checks at UK ports, undertaken by skilled officers.

Officers search vehicles and containers entering the UK on an intelligence-led and targeted basis.  This involves the use of state of the art scanning equipment, CO2 probes, x-ray technology, motion sensors as well as use of sniffer dogs.

We are also investing in new technology, such as e-Passport gates and motion detection technology, to improve security and prevent illegal entry to the UK, benefit passengers and deliver efficiencies.

The  UK operates border controls in France and Belgium. This allows Border Force officers to check passengers and freight destined for the UK before they begin their journey.

These ‘juxtaposed controls’ are in place at Calais and Dunkirk ports, at the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles and in Paris Gare du Nord, Lille, Calais-Frethun and Brussels Midi stations for Eurostar passengers.

Border Force work proactively with European law enforcement, including partners in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, to target the organised crime networks behind people trafficking and illegal migration.

The maritime border

 Border Force uses a combination of cutters and Coastal Patrol Vessels to patrol UK maritime borders and respond to maritime border security threats.

The total fleet comprises five cutters and six Coastal Patrol Vessels (CPVs). Two CPVs and three cutters are currently in the Channel.

Border Force’s deployment of maritime capabilities is under constant review.

Small boats

Border Force operations to counter clandestine crossings of the Channel are coordinated with our French counterparts with whom we have a close working relationship.

On 28 September, an enhanced action plan, agreed by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, and French Interior Minister, Christophe Castaner, came into force.

The plan redoubles efforts to address the issue and includes:

  • doubling patrols and deploying new detection equipment to increase interceptions on French beaches
  • action to intensify efforts to tackle criminal gangs through strengthened intelligence sharing
  • engaging directly with migrants to discourage them from making the journey

Assets on the ground will be doubled to provide 24/7 cover of the beaches in northern France, ensuring more detections before boats are able to leave the shore, cutting the number of attempted crossings.

Specialist Border Force work

Forgery detection is a core part of training for all Border Force officers. Most ports have a team of specially trained forgery officers who will use specialist equipment to examine suspicious documents at ports.

As well as detection and seizure work, Border Force also works to identify and protect vulnerable individuals including those at risk of trafficking, modern day slavery, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

A network of specialist Border Force safeguarding and modern slavery officers works across the UK.

Last year the Home Office supported victims in 1,764 suspected cases of forced marriage, 574 of which involved under-18s.

Common Travel Area

Border Force and the wider Home Office works closely with the Irish authorities on border security and to tackle abuse of the Common Travel Area. This includes data sharing, operational co-ordination and work on passenger data.

Individuals identified attempting to circumvent UK border controls are liable to be removed if not lawfully present in the UK.

Close working with law enforcement colleagues

Border Force works closely with the National Crime Agency, police, other law enforcement organisations and international partners.  This joint work secures our borders against a range of threats, including modern slavery and human trafficking, terrorism, firearms, Class A drugs, and tax evasion whilst disrupting organised criminal groups.

Border Force also works and shares intelligence with Immigration Enforcement Criminal and Financial Investigation (CFI) teams, who are an operational part of the Home Office, dedicated to investigating and prosecuting the criminal gangs behind illegal migration.

Recent examples of criminal action resulting from Border Force detections include:

  • On 31 October a 41-year-old man was jailed for 17 years after pleading guilty to importing Class A drugs. He had been caught by Border Force officers at the Port of Harwich on 26 June with 264kg of cocaine hidden in his lorry.
  • On 28 October a 23-year-old man was jailed for two years and three months after pleading guilty to facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration laws. He had been caught by Border Force officers at the Channel Tunnel entrance in Coquelles with two Albanian nationals hidden in his car.
  • On 2 October a 52-year-old man was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to facilitating a breach of the UK’s immigration laws. He had been caught by Border Force officers at the Port of Hull with 20 people, who presented themselves as Afghan nationals, hidden in his lorry.
  • On 16 September a 36-year-old man was jailed for 21 months after pleading guilty to assisting unlawful entry into the UK. He had been caught by Border Force officers at the Port of Holyhead attempting to abuse the Common Travel Area and bring four Albanian nationals into the UK in his car.
  • On 31 August, officers from Border Force and the National Crime Agency seized nearly 1.3 tonnes of heroin at the Port of Felixstowe which was found concealed in the back of a trailer. This is the largest ever seizure of heroin in the UK. Following the find, four arrests were made by Dutch and Belgian law enforcement.
  • On 8 July a 31-year-old man was jailed for three years and four months after pleading guilty to assisting unlawful immigration into the UK. He had been intercepted by a Border Force cutter on 27 March in the Channel near Folkestone on board a RHIB with 12 migrants, including two children, on board.

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