Broken border: 4,000 ‘high risk’ passenger flights go unchecked each year, report reveals

© Luke MacGregor
Britain’s Border Force misses more than 4,000 ‘high risk’ flights each year and has allowed known terrorists to flee the country, a devastating report has warned.

The UK’s Border Force is in a terrible state, according to a report by the Adam Smith Institute.

The think tank claims the agency uses computer systems which are years out of date and fails to properly screen dangerous individuals fleeing the country.

Central to the Border Force’s problems is a severe lacking of funding and investment.

Government funding for the Border Force has been cut 15 percent in real terms since 2010, while passenger numbers have risen 20 percent over the same period.

In September 2014, terrorist suspect Siddhartha Dhar fled the UK for Syria by hopping on a coach to Paris with his family.

A day before his escape he was bailed from jail and given one week by the Metropolitan Police to voluntarily hand in his passport.

Despite having been arrested for alleged terrorism offenses on six occasions, Dhar still managed to slip out of Britain.

Border officers aim to check 99 percent of inbound ‘high risk’ flights, for example when passenger lists have not been submitted in advance.

But the Adam Smith Institute found that on some days up to 7.5 percent of such flights go unchecked.

Extrapolated over 12 months, this reaches the worryingly high figure of 4,197 flights a year.

Starved of funds and neglected, it’s no wonder the Border Force has been stretched so thin. Its tools are out of date and, by everybody’s judgement, not fit for purpose,” the report said.

Adam Smith Institute executive director Sam Bowman said: “A successful Border Force needs to do two things: keep people out of the country who should not be allowed in, and do so without causing unnecessary disruption to other passengers.

In both these respects the Border Force is not succeeding. Its security systems are out of date, overstretched and failing to cover all passengers adequately. It’s astonishing that potentially thousands of high-risk flights are not being checked properly by the Border Force.

A spokeswoman for the Border Force said officers carried out “detailed risk assessments and our officers physically meet any flight considered to be high risk.

“In addition, we work with domestic and international partners to gather intelligence and target suspicious activity in the skies and seas.”