BORDER guards have been travelling in style on cruise ships so that wealthy passengers do not have to queue to show their passports when they reach port.
A special “premium service” means officers from the cash-strapped Border Force are stationed on luxury liners instead of at overcrowded airports.
Border guards get the chance to travel on luxury cruise ships to avoid passenger queues at ports[/caption]
Known as “crossing officers”, they check passengers’ travel documents while at sea so they do not have to wait to be seen after docking at places like Falmouth or Portland where there is no permanent passport desk.
Cruise ship firms paid a total of £88,000 to the Home Office for the privilege of having their own on-board immigration checks during a three-month trial in 2017. The system may become standard after Brexit.
David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration, revealed in a new report yesterday: “Between September 2017 to November 2017, Border Force ran a 3-month trial aimed at finding a more efficient way of clearing cruise ship passengers arriving at UK ports.
“This involved deploying Border Force officers (‘crossing officers’) on cruise ships before they arrived at their first UK port.
“The hoped-for benefit for the cruise ship operators was that passengers could be cleared for immigration purposes before docking, enabling them to disembark quickly.
“Meanwhile, Border Force would benefit by not having to deploy officers to remote ports.”
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An earlier study by the watchdog said that because cruise ships often reach shore at unpredictable times, and at places where there is no permanent Border Force desk, passengers can have to wait hours before their documents can be checked.
“For example, cruise liner arrivals at Portland (Dorset) are attended by officers based at Poole, 35 miles (1 hour) away.
“Meanwhile, on a visit to Falmouth (Cornwall) in April 2018 an inspector observed the ‘Viking Sky’ (capacity 930 passengers) berthed in the harbour, having arrived from Porto (Portugal). The nearest staffed port is Plymouth, 55 miles (2 hours) away.”
David Bolt, Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration says Border Force would benefit by not having to deploy officers to remote ports[/caption]
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