Heathrow staff failed to check passengers from high risk flights: report

2 August 2015 (Last Updated August 2nd, 2015 18:30)

Customs officers at London’s Heathrow Airport have failed to check several passengers arriving on ‘high-risk’ flights from overseas, a new report has revealed.

Customs officers at London's Heathrow Airport have failed to check several passengers arriving on 'high-risk' flights from overseas, a new report has revealed.

Raising concern over the security measures at the airport, the report by the Chief Inspector of Borders claimed that they had recorded eight instances when there were no officers in the customs channels at one or both of the two exits of Heathrow's terminal 5, reported the Times.

While the report did not specify the locations of the inbound flights, the terminal receives planes from cities in the US, Brazil, South Africa, India, Kenya and Turkey.

"This is completely unacceptable and makes our border controls a mockery."

The report was prepared after inspecting 78 customs officers for 25 hours at the terminal in 2014.

"On eight occasions during this period there were no officers in the customs channels at one or both of the two exits, despite the fact that a number of 'high-risk' flights were arriving at the time," the report said.

Border force officials said that the government's focus on preventing long queues at airports, was a primary reason. Shortage of staff was also a reason for the laxity.

Immigration Service Union general secretary Lucy Moreton said : "Pressure to examine every arriving passenger for immigration purposes and an aversion to adverse publicity on queuing times mean that there are simply not enough staff to perform the secondary (Customs) role, sometimes leaving the channels unstaffed.

"This comes down to a political decision; resource the border sufficiently, or decide which elements the government no longer wish staff to perform."

Conservative MP for Shipley and a member of the Commons justice select committee Philip Davies said: "This is completely unacceptable and makes our border controls a mockery."