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Seventy more staff would be recruited after Olympics to cope with the academic rush expected in September

Date: (16 May 2012)    |    

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The Immigration minister has announced that soon after the Olympics seventy extra border staff would be taken from within the Whitehall to check any fresh passport crisis at British airports in September.
All summer leaves of the UK Border Force have been withdrawn by the Home Office and extra temporary staff is being brought in from other parts of Whitehall to deal with the deluge of 650,000 extra tourists expected this summer.
But the immigration minister, Damian Green, has acknowledged that the Olympic contingency plans could result in severe staff shortages after the Games with new academic year due to start bringing in tens of thousands of overseas students.
The minister told MPs that the 70 extra staff to be recruited had been due to be taken on by 2014 for the reopening of Heathrow's Terminal 2. He said a new wave of recruitment is being brought forward for the reopening of Terminal 2 to give Border Force even more flexibility to secure the border while dealing with record passenger numbers at Heathrow.
Staff will be recruited from elsewhere in Whitehall and are expected to be in post between July and October after being trained and receiving security clearance.
The minister told the Commons home affairs select committee that a return to a "risk-based" policy of passport checks at Heathrow would not necessarily solve the problem of long queues after a clampdown last autumn. He said the length of queues at Heathrow and Stansted could depend just as much on the wind as on the nature of the checks, especially for long-haul flights.
If the weather meant that a New York flight was delayed and arrived just behind a Nigerian flight whose passengers had to undergo full passport checks, then the passengers from New York would face longer waits to clear security than if their flight arrived 10 minutes earlier. Anything that depended on the wind, even with best will in the world, airlines and the Border Force don't have the control, he said.
Green said he was not in principle opposed to the introduction of risk-based controls, but a pilot scheme the previous year was ruined due to unauthorized relaxation of the checks because of queues.