Home Affairs Committee concern over exit checks

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Government must concede greater exemptions, in addition to coachloads of under 16s, say MPs

The Home Affairs Committee (HAC) is concerned about government plans for border exit checks due to be introduced after Easter.

From Wednesday, April 8, all cross-channel ferry and Eurotunnel passengers will be asked to present passports or national identity cards at check-in. The new additional Government process at the ports is expected to result in longer check-in procedures, a point operators and drivers should take into account.

The HAC report, ‘The work of the Immigration Directorates: Calais’, published on Monday (March 23), forms part of the ongoing scrutiny into the work of UKVI, Immigration Enforcement, and Border Force. The report focuses on three areas: the situation in Calais, the introduction of Exit Checks, and Criminal Record Checks of people entering the country.

The MPs said they cannot see how the Government can fulfil its pledge to deliver 100% exit checks by the deadline.

Keith Vaz MP, HAC Chairman, said: “The Home Office is asking for exit checks to be carried out by the transport companies – despite not being clear as to what they want and how they are to be carried out. This entire process has given them inadequate time to prepare for their introduction. Four weeks before the deadline there is still no certainty, for example, as to whether closed coach parties will be allowed to cross the channel without checks. The way this is being introduced has caused confusion, and will lead to delays, traffic queues and congestion on the road network around Folkestone and Dover.

“We would not be surprised if exceptions, in addition to coachloads of under 16s, are announced before the April 8. The Home Office must publish a definitive list of what is included in the scope of the programme by the time Parliament rises.”

Responding, Don Armour, the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Manager – International Affairs said: “This HAC report confirms FTA’s concerns over the new proposed manual individual passport checks. We have already said that we are not convinced that the proposed passport checking system has been thought through properly or that it is as robust as officials would have us believe, and as a result we believe it will cause delays at the ports and exit points – and chaos on the roads leading to departure.”

The Port of Dover has advised that during periods of increased freight traffic, that all tourist drivers use the A2/M2 route towards the Port in order to minimise delays their journey.