Julian Bray Aviation security expert comments: An interesting, if flawed idea from MP Charlie Elphicke (released a couple of days before Christmas), is doing the rounds of Westminster at the moment, suggesting that we adopt the USA Visa Waiver System as a fund raiser to inject some £250million extra for the UK Border Force Budget, but then it uses as a justification the rise in two main sources of illegal immigration – “lorry drops” and migrants landing undetected on our beaches.
Both these criminally well organised groups of course would hardly be in possession of valid electronic passports - an essential part of the electronic processing service - and still likely to bypass the current wholly inadequate system, we have in place for protecting our UK borders, and some experts suggest totally useless post-brexit.
Having poured some cold water on the MPs scheme - as it stands, there are however some interesting elements that could be adopted, as part of a much wider strategic revamp of the overall homeland security policy of this country. So the full paper is included below.
There also seems to be some misunderstanding as the purpose of the USA Visa Waiver System, simply if your electronic authorisation is approved, this approval only establishes that you are eligible to travel to the United States, but does NOT guarantee that you are then physically admissible to the United States.
Simply, on arrival in the United States you will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer at a port of entry who may then determine that you are inadmissible under the Visa Waiver Program or for ANY reason under United States law.
One frequent reason for refusal is the different attitudes between our two countries on 'spent' convictions. For USA visa purposes UK convictions, no matter how small, are never ever spent, and must be formally declared. It could also result in your whole family/party being excluded from the USA.
Once declared, it is still possible to travel to the USA, but a fully annotated Visa (taking up a full page in your electronic passport) has to be applied for well in advance of travel, and this will inter-alia, include a face to face interview by appointment, at a designated US Embassy, and all the time and extra travel costs that will entail. The visa fees are also extra starting at US$160 rising to US$390. It is also a good idea to first establish if your name is on a 'no fly list' before you start the visa process.....
The UK’s Brexit Border – Security and Money
- Brexit. The role played by the UK Border is more important than ever post-Brexit. Leaving the European Union will present a challenge to trade – but it is also a real opportunity to strike the best deal for Britain. An effective, free-flowing yet secure border is vital to keep trade booming.
- Terrorism and trafficking. The rise of ISIL/Daesh, and recent horrific terror attacks in Germany, Belgium and France, highlight the need to make security at the UK border stronger. We need to collect data so we know exactly who is travelling here – and disrupt the cells of terrorists and traffickers across Britain and Europe.
- “Lorry drops”. Most of the migrants encountered by the Home Office in 2014 and 2015 had arrived in the UK concealed in a HGV, according to a report by David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, published in July 2016. While frontline staff coped well with the extra demands of increased “lorry drops”, this was at the expense of other immigration enforcement priorities such as illegal working and sham marriages. The increased workload also meant the number of outstanding asylum claims rocketed from 200 in 2014 to 3,964 in 2015. David Bolt recommended the Home Office ensure “appropriate structures, staffing levels and contingency plans in relation to ‘lorry drops’ are in place and properly resourced”. Lorry drops are still a serious concern – just last week a smuggling ring involving Lidl Lorries was brought to light.
- Landings on Britain’s beaches. In 2016 there has been a striking increase in the number of migrants landing on our beaches in small craft as a result of cross-Channel people trafficking. There have been several high-profile cases, including in my constituency, which has understandably raised public concern. The case of traffickers recently convicted of illegally transporting Albanians to Dymchurch in Kent is just the tip of a very large iceberg. Indeed, the National Crime Agency has warned of the growing small craft trafficking problem and has discovered an extensive trafficking trade being run via 200 social media sites. The Home Affairs Select Committee has reported that the increased security at the main Channel Ports has caused trafficking gangs to seek out alternative trafficking routes. And, most recently, a report published earlier this month by David Anderson QC, Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, underlines the serious concerns about people landing illegally on beaches and in small ports along the south coast. The report also noted a worrying level of complacency about this threat. David Anderson QC warned of the risk posed by returning jihadis from Syria. The report stated that small ports, marinas and landing places “might be an option for returning foreign fighters or other terrorists […] in order to get into the country.”
JULIAN BRAY +44(0)1733 345581 Aerospace & Incident Management Expert, Journalist & Broadcaster, Aviation Security & Airline Operations, Travel / Maritime & Cruise Industry, NUJ, EQUITY, LIVE ISDN LINK, Broadcast ISDN COOBE ++44 (0)1733 345020 e&oe Old faithful NOKIA: 07944 217476 www.aviationcomment.com