Risk of corruption in Border Force increased by staff dissatisfaction | UK security and counter-terrorism

Dissatisfaction over pay and conditions has increased the risk of corruption in the Border Force, the government’s watchdog has said.

David Neal, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, said in a report that the UK’s border security agency could face its own version of the scandals that have engulfed policing if it does not improve its ability to deal with “insider threat”.

His comments are the result of an inspection carried out at the beginning of the year that found “confused” leadership structures and a lack of data hampered the Border Force’s ability to prevent staff abusing their positions for personal gain.

The inspection also found “a lack of engagement” and “wide-level disaffection within the organisation”, particularly over pay, which meant “the risk to Border Force from insider threat is likely heightened, and it is currently challenging to attain support across the organisation for the risk mitigation measures they would like to introduce”.

That disaffection has resulted in strikes by Border Force staff this year, causing disruption at airports and requiring the armed forces to be brought in to provide cover.

Neal said: “Policing is facing the damaging fallout of an organisational structure that is failing to properly account for its insider threat.

“As a law enforcement agency, Border Force needs to be equipped for success. On the evidence of this inspection, it does not appear to be as well-equipped as it could or ought to be, which risks wider reputational consequence.”

Neal also criticised the Home Office’s handling of his report, which was completed in May but has only now been published, six weeks after it was due to be released.

The report has also been subject to several redactions by the Home Office, including the omission of one of the inspector’s recommendations.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said: “It is shocking that the inspector has found that the government has no proper grip on tackling the risk within the Border Force of staff aiding serious criminals including people smugglers and drug gangs. His report warns that the structures within Border Force are not robust enough.

“This is a damning indictment of this government’s failure to take basic action to protect border security – undermining efforts to tackle everything from people smuggling through to the supply of drugs and firearms.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The report acknowledged that Border Force has built strong organisational trust and has a supportive culture through a specific programme for identifying and preventing insider threats, which built on existing vetting and security procedures.

“This means that Border Force is in a strong position to ensure both the integrity of its operations and its people, and we will continue to build on this work.”


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