Yvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, responding to the Short Notice Inspection report at Heathrow by John Vine issued today, said:
“The Olympic countdown has started yet the Home Secretary still hasn't sorted the chaos at our borders caused by her decision to cut so many staff this year.
“Re-employing former immigration staff, having cut nearly 900 people from the Border Force since the general election, is a damning self-admission of failure and a waste of taxpayer’s money too.
“The scale of staff cuts and the Home Secretary's failure to sort out the management problems has meant queues of over two hours just weeks before the Olympics start. The Government say UKBA had a ‘bad April’, but the truth is they’re having a bad year because of this Government’s failure.
“The latest figures show queue management is still chaotic and there are fewer desks open at peak times than at non-peak times.
“Now we find out from the Chief Inspector that the staff being brought in to replace those who were cut are not trained sufficiently to process people in good time. The Chief Inspector said these replacement staff are also asking fewer questions of passengers, which raises serious concerns that as well as long queues, people who should be questioned further are not being properly examined.
“The Home Secretary should also urgently examine reports of faulty forgery equipment at Terminals 3 and 4, and begin a more honest measurement of queues rather than taking averages over a day and week that mask the dreadful state of affairs at Heathrow and other ports.
“There are only 15 days to go until the start of the Olympics, and people are already beginning to arrive. Everybody else is working hard to show the best of Britain, but the Home Secretary is in danger of letting people down with a chaotic and bad experience from the moment visitors arrive in the UK.
“Ministers have had years to prepare, they've now got less than two weeks to sort this farce out."