Border Force

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This article is about the UK government department. For the Australian equivalent, see Australian Border Force. For the UK TV series, see UK Border Force (TV series).
Border Force
Border Force logo.png
Logo of the Border Force.
Agency overview
Formed 1 March, 2012
Preceding agency UK Border Agency
Employees 8,000
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
United Kingdom
Legal jurisdiction United Kingdom
General nature
Specialist jurisdiction National border patrol, security, and integrity.
Operational structure
Overviewed by Independent Police Complaints Commission/Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
Agency executive Sir Charles Montgomery,
Director General
Parent agency Home Office
Facilities
Cutters
  • HMC Protector
  • HMC Seeker
  • HMC Searcher
  • HMC Vigilant
  • HMC Valiant.
Website
www.gov.uk/border-force

Border Force is a part of the Home Office, responsible for frontline border control operations at air, sea and rail ports in the United Kingdom. The force was part of the now defunct UK Border Agency from its establishment in 2008 until Home Secretary Theresa May demerged it in March 2012 after severe criticism of the senior management.[1]

Since 1 March 2012, Border Force has been a law-enforcement command within the Home Office, accountable directly to ministers.[2] The work of the Border Force is monitored by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration.

Responsibilities[edit]

The stated responsibilities of the Home Office's Border Force are the following:[3]

  • To check the immigration status of people arriving in and departing the UK.
  • To search baggage, vehicles and cargo arriving in the UK for illicit goods or illegal immigrants.
  • To patrol the UK coastline and search vessels to prevent smuggling with its fleet of 5 cutters (HMC Protector and four 42m cutters).[4]
  • To gather intelligence to protect and collect customs revenues for trade crossing the border.
  • To alert the police and security services to people of interest attempting to enter or depart the UK.

Powers[edit]

Staff hold a mixture of powers granted to them by their status as immigration officers and designated customs officials.

Immigration powers[edit]

Main article: Immigration officer

Immigration officers have powers of arrest and detention conferred on them by the Immigration Act 1971, when both at ports and inland. In practice, non-arrest trained Border Force immigration officers exercise powers under Schedule 2 of the Immigration Act 1971, while inland immigration officers work under S28A-H of the Immigration Act 1971 and paragraph 17 of Schedule 2, as do arrest-trained Border Force immigration officers at the frontier.

Historically, port and inland immigration officers received different training to reflect these different approaches to immigration enforcement, which is now reinforced by inland officers working for Immigration Enforcement, a separate Home Office Command.

"Designated Immigration Officers" are Border Force immigration officers who have been designated with additional detention powers, under Sections 1 to 4 of the UK Borders Act 2007, where a person at a port or airport is suspected of being liable to arrest by a police officer for non-border offences.

Customs powers[edit]

Main article: Customs officer

Border Force officers, designated as customs officials under the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009, have wide-ranging powers of entry, search, seizure and arrest. They hold the same customs and excise powers as officers of HM Revenue and Customs, but cannot use HMRC powers for non-border matters, such as Income Tax and VAT. Amongst their powers is the ability to arrest anyone who has committed, or who the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect has committed, any offence under the Customs and Excise Acts. They may also seize prohibited and restricted goods, such as controlled drugs and firearms, as well as ensuring that imported goods bear the correct taxes and duties.[5]

Leadership[edit]

The first Director General of Border Force was the former Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police Brian Moore, who was appointed on secondment on an interim basis to last until 31 August 2012 and was expected to apply for the position permanently, despite criticism of his management of passport queues.[6] On 10 July 2012, Immigration Minister Damian Green confirmed that Moore had not applied for the post, despite Moore earlier telling the Home Affairs Select Committee that he would be applying.

Tony Smith was appointed as interim Director General of Border Force on 19 September 2012.[7] Smith was previously Gold Commander for the joint UKBA and Border Force Olympics and has spent forty years in border control and enforcement work.

Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Montgomery was named as the new Director General on 25 January 2013.[8]

Organisation[edit]

Border Force has five operational regions: Central; Heathrow; North; South and South East & Europe. The regions have responsibility for securing the border 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at the UK’s ports, airports, postal depots and rail. This includes the Eurostar from Brussels and Paris to St Pancras International and the Eurotunnel from Coquelles to Cheriton.

The regions’ varied work includes stopping 100 per cent of passengers arriving at ports or airports for immigration controls. Officers also conduct risk-led interceptions for controlled drugs, cash, tobacco, alcohol, firearms, offensive weapons, prohibited goods, counterfeit goods and clandestine entrants. They do this at passenger and freight controls, covering passengers travelling on foot, by car, coaches, freight vehicles, as well as air freight and sea containers.

Equipment[edit]

Border Force officers wear a uniform with rank insignia. Border Force uniform is navy blue and, currently, modelled on the Metropolitan Police uniform.

Border Force officers can make use of body armour and carry handcuffs, as well as ASP batons. Leg restraints are also in circulation.

Officers also carry Tetra radios on the secure Airwave network, often with earpieces, to communicate with other officers.[9] In addition officers may also carry other useful police equipment, such as torches.

Specialist forgery detection equipment is available at ports and airports to identify false passports and identity documents. Customs officials make use of a variety of specialised tools and equipment when searching cars, lorries, aircraft, container ships and other items crossing the border.

The Home Office buildings in Sheffield

Rank Insignia[edit]

Uniformed Border Force officers have their rank displayed on shoulder epaulettes, attached to their shirt, jumper or jacket. Warranted officers below Senior Officer rank may also have their identification number displayed.

Rank Administrative Assistant Assistant Officer Officer Higher Officer Senior Officer Assistant Director Deputy Director Director Senior Director Director General
Civil Service Grade AA AO EO HEO SEO Grade 7 Grade 6 SCS SCS SCS
Insignia UK Border Force Rank Epaulette AA.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette AO.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette EO.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette HEO.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette SEO.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette AD.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette DD.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette D.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette SD.png UK Border Force Rank Epaulette DG.png

Vessels[edit]

The Border Force has five cutters in active service.

Name Class Launched Notes
HMC Seeker UKBF 42m Customs Cutter 2001 In service – built to Damen Stan Patrol 4207 design
HMC Searcher UKBF 42m Customs Cutter 2002 In service – built to Damen Stan Patrol 4207 design
HMC Vigilant UKBF 42m Customs Cutter 2003 In service – built to Damen Stan Patrol 4207 design
HMC Valiant UKBF 42m Customs Cutter 2004 In service – built to Damen Stan Patrol 4207 design
HMC Protector Goldeneye Class 2002 In service – purchased from Finnish Border Guard in 2013

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Theresa May to split up UK Border Agency, BBC News Online, 20 February 2012
  2. ^ Home Secretary's statement on border security, Home Office Website, Monday, 20 Feb 2012
  3. ^ "Inside government: Border Force". UK Government (gov.uk). Retrieved 20 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Revenue Cutters - Current Fleet". Revenue Cutter Association. Retrieved 23 November 2013. 
  5. ^ "Section 138, Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (c. 2)". Office of Public Sector Information. Retrieved 12 April 2012. 
  6. ^ David Millward (22 May 2012). "Border Force chief faces battle to keep job over threat of four-hour immigration queues during Olympics". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 July 2012. 
  7. ^ Home Affairs Select Committee, 18 September 2012
  8. ^ "New Director General of Border Force announced". Home Office. 25 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  9. ^ UK Border Force Documentary, Season 2, Episode 3 (YouTube)

External links[edit]