So the UK is (supposedly) no-go for terrorists and serious criminals (mostly, at least) but OK for illegal migrants: that, in a nutshell is the attitude of the Borders & Immigration Agency, judging by the weasel answers of ex-Border Force chief Brodie Clark in answer to questions just now from the Home Affairs Commons Select Committee. And our old friend elf 'n safety can justify removal of checks, apparently; whenever queues start to form.
Brodie Clark was specifically asked if he had thought to tell the Home Secretary of the guidance allowing relaxed or no checking, that had been in operation, unknown to ministers (as we learnt this last weekend) since 2007 …..
As the questioner then pointed out: this makes irrelevant the issue re the 'pilot' to which the Home Secretary was asked to agree, in that checks in any case had been and continued to be relaxed to a far greater extent and several years before the current 'pilot' was even thought of.
Clark had to admit that after he had leaned earlier this year of the suspension of fingerprint checks, that he "did not stop it", even though was relying on guidance from 2007 that did not even refer to fingerprinting, given that this did not come in until 2010.
The Home Office and the BIA have been hiding behind guidance in respect of checking against the 'warnings index' so as to reduce checking down to this low level instead of maintaining full immigration checks.
The upshot is that we don't have a border that excludes illegal migrants and visa fraudsters.
This is what is meant by the buzz-phrase "risk-led" to describe an approach purporting to increase UK security.
Security is – that is, should be – not merely about trying on a percentage basis to target resources variably so as to exclude serious criminals: it is – that is, it should be – concerned with generally excluding those who have no right to enter and to remain in the UK. All those who are in various ways illegals.
This is the nearest we have thus far come to the chickens coming home to roost at the Home Office. The whole upper echelons of the Home Office and the BIA (up to and including Helen Ghosh, the Permanent Secretary) are culpable for the enormous strategic – not merely operational – non-system of immigration control. But who is going to carry the can? Will it just be Brodie Clark as fall guy? Will even Clark wriggle free?