A recent report has revealed that over 11,000 travellers have unintentionally avoided UK border checks between 2013 and 2017 due to a lack of clear directions.
According to figures released by the Home Office, there has been a 70% increase in the number of passengers who were misdirected, from 1,364 in 2016 to 2,328 in 2017.
Further statistics from a Freedom of Information request show that the Border Force recorded 2,394, 2,665 and 2,278 misdirected passengers in 2013, 2014 and 2015, respectively.
The UK Government said that these mistakes often take place when the wrong doors are opened or the airline operators send travellers in the wrong direction. Checks are now being carried out to identify those responsible.
The Home Office released a statement claiming no cases of dangerous individuals who avoided checks had been registered, adding: “The security of our border is paramount”. It also said that despite the majority of travellers regularly passing through the borders, “a relatively small but unacceptable” number still gets misdirected.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “We are determined to eradicate these errors and believe a civil penalty is a vital tool in ensuring this happens.”
Earlier in March, the government unveiled plans for civil penalties of up to £50,000 for airports and airlines that misdirect passengers, though the Airport Operators Association (AOA) called the measure disproportionate.
A spokesman for the AOA said the number of misdirected passengers compared to total travellers has decreased since 2013, a figure that proved the operators’ willingness to tackle the issue.
He said: “We are committed to working with airlines, ground handlers and Border Force to continue to improve on our track record.
“We do not believe that the proposed civil penalty should be part of that ongoing work as it is disproportionate in light of the numbers of passengers involved.”