The Heathrow Immigration Queue Saga - What is the Solution?

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It is not only Heathrow that is in the spotlight. Friday evening there were reports of very long queues at Stansted airport as UK Border Agency staff struggled to deal with the influx of passengers.

We live in a time of austerity and the government has had to make cut backs to public services all over the country, including it seems in the number of immigration staff policing our borders. There are a number of reasons why this is, in my view, unacceptable:

1. Those coming into our country should be subject to the closest scrutiny possible. Procedures must be implemented fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner. This is a vital part of the wider protection of our national interests and public security.

2. The UK Border Agency can work closely with airlines and airport owners/operators to ensure that peak times are sufficiently staffed. While I accept there may be unforeseen delays and flight diversions, the information as to the number of passengers likely to flood into passport control at any one time is available well in advance. UK Border Agency staff rotas and shift patterns should mirror this.

3. Pictures of long queues at Heathrow airport's passport control are an embarrassing indictment of how the country is able to cope, or not, with hosting international events. The potential long term harm this could do to our economy and people wanting to do business in the UK is clear.

The Government needs to stop thinking about knee-jerk, political reactions to the pictures of our over-burdened airports we have seen broadcast across the media recently and needs to start putting in place long term measures to effectively minimise and tackle a problem that is not short term and that will not go away. With talk of an increase in landing fees at Heathrow to pay for extra immigration staff (a cost the consumer will ultimately bear) it is clear there are some public spending cut backs that are not sustainable.

Chris Deacon
Solicitor - Claims Abroad team

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