Borders Policing Body Begins Work

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is launching a new body which will have responsibility for policing the country’s borders.

The UK Border Agency merges the work of 25,000 immigration, revenue and customs and visa staff.  Critics say its creation is just a re-branding exercise, since the new agency will have no new powers.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The new agency will be the eyes and ears of the police at the border.”

The UKBA’s 25,000 staff previously worked in the Border and Immigration Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and UK Visas, which all merged to form the new agency.

UKBA will work to combat smuggling, immigration crime and border tax fraud.

A Home Office spokesman said: “It is committed to working with the police to improve, strengthen and better co-ordinate the security arrangements at ports and airports.”

Workers in UKBA will have a wide range of powers to board and search vehicles, aircraft and trains, and to enter premises, seize goods and detain suspects.

Staff will be given a new uniform at a later stage.

However, the Conservatives have criticised the government for failing to include police in the new organisation.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: “This is simply the same porous arrangements – which have failed to secure our borders – with a new name.

“In contrast, we would establish a dedicated UK border force with proper police powers to secure our borders and pursue crime, from human trafficking to drug smuggling.”