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This is very fun

A union boss has threatened to take legal action against the Government after plans to disrupt passport control were thwarted by the military stepping in to fill the posts of striking Border Force staff.

Mark Serwotka, the general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, said that Number 10 could face “post-strike action litigation” over its contingency measures at airports, which he claimed had left the borders open.

Finding out that your thought to be vital workers are highly substitutable is obviously annoying. But why it’s illegal, well…..

He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme Westminster was using “untrained personnel who are not legally entitled to stop people who they suspect of criminal activity”.

“The price the Government is paying to not have queues is that they are not discharging their legal responsibilities,” he said. “Staff are being brought at huge expense from all over the country to offer a fraction of the service that our striking members would normally be offering.

“If the Government wants to wave people through as the price of not having queues, that’s the choice they are making.”

It might even be correct but if that’s true then it’s not looking good for the pressure you can bring to bear by striking, is it?

BTW, when did they start being called Border Force? Something about that grates, deeply. “Force”? Eh. Weren’t they Customs and Excise at one point?

18 thoughts on “This is very fun”

  1. ‘Number 10 could face “post-strike action litigation” over its contingency measures at airports, which he claimed had left the borders open.’

    Yeah, normally his staff have it all sewn up tighter than a duck’s arse, as any Albanian could tell you.

  2. ’He told BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme Westminster was using “untrained personnel who are not legally entitled to stop people who they suspect of criminal activity”.’

    Meanwhile, we learn elsewhere (The ‘Mail’) that a BF officer is suspected to be an illegal migrant himself! What larks!

    And yes, it’s all the front line former Customs staff who left to form UKBF when HMC&C joined with the Inland Revenue. Another of the one-eyed snotgobbler’s great ideas…

  3. Customs and Excise is part of HMRC, and charge you money if they can. Border Farce are part of the Home Office and check/stamp your paperwork. Smithian specialisation, innit? 🙂

  4. Potted history of Border Force –

    Back in the day there was C&E who collected VAT, border taxes and looked for naughty stuff at ports. The immigration service was totally separate and took care of visas, stamping passports etc. A wierd lot they were.

    Sometime around 2004, C&E was merged with the Inland Revenue to form HMRC which made some sense from a tax point of view, especially the VAT aspect, but the border related stuff never really fitted.

    A few years later the former borders part of C&E was split out of HMRC and merged with the immigration service to form the UK Borders Agency under the Home Office. This was a very unhappy marriage as culturally the two sets of people were polar opposites – a problem which persists to this day.

    A while after that, and following a damning review, the front line part of UKBA was split out to form the current UKBF, leaving all the visas stuff behind.

    So the lot currently on strike are a mish mash of former (proper) customs officers, ex immigration service and whatever new recruits they’ve scooped up along the way.

    In other words, it’s a mess where you have people who are really very good at finding drugs/guns etc concealed in lorries bored out of their minds stamping passports at Gatwick, while people with a lifetime’s experience at spotting a fake passport try to work out how to open a shipping container.

  5. If you’ve got at least 30 minutes to spare of a slow afternoon, there’s a mate of mine who can easily fill that up with a proper rant about the IR/C&E merger.

    There’s also a guy roundabouts who was senior when UKBA was created, then hauled out of retirement to attempt to sort out UKBF, then ended up in front of various Commons committees investigating.

    He’s learnt to keep his trap shut, annoyingly.

  6. Told this story before. When I was commuting Dover/Dunkerque regularly- mostly travelling middle of the night EN>FR- getting pulled over for a check at Dover was normal. Usual thing. Waved out the traffic into a shed. Had to get out the car, take all the metal out of my pockets, walk though the detector gate, scoop it out the tray, back in the car & on the boat. They never gave the car itself a glance. Big American people carrier. Room for half a dozen people or enough weaponry to start a war. Bumped into the rather tasty blonde BF in Dover town one day & ended up taking her to dinner. Just as I thought. Middle aged white geezer travelling solo best mark to hit the quotas. Last thing they need to be tackling at 3 AM is a car full of tinted & kids where they might find something. They want to go off shift at 6.

  7. @BiS, those checks you got pinged for are nothing to do with customs/immigration. They are carried out by the port authority in order to comply with port security regulations; and yes they are very much random/quota driven.

    You’ve likely never been stopped travelling outbound by a proper law enforcement agency (Customs, Immigration, Police etc)

  8. I have. Going to Ireland on the ferry. True, I was in my LSE very student days and it was the Dublin ferry and during a bombing campaign…..

  9. With a few tweaks to regulation (especially once properly free of the EU’s clutches) and a bit of savvy tech investment, you could certainly get rid of 2/3ds to 3/4s of them with no discernible impact.

  10. @Tim, that was probably before my time, but yes those special branch boys could be quite the lark back in the day.

  11. Serwotka’s probably pissed that many travelers are reporting things are running more smoothly with the military doing the job…

  12. I was always getting stopped and security checked both outbound and inbound at the Tunnel/Dover when I drove my MG.

    When I bought my big Chrysler, I was occasionally asked inbound at Dover where I’d been and where I was going, but it was the Austrian, German and French rozzers who then started pulling me.

  13. @john77 – “*Any* citizen is entitled to stop someone they suspectr of illegal activity.”

    However, if the suspicion turns out to be incorrect, an ordinary citizen is then guilty of false arrest, which is why private security staff in shops are very careful in deciding who to stop when they suspect theft. Immunity from this kind of false arrest is a key privilege of the appropriate officers.

  14. @ Charles
    You omit to mention “mens rea” – so if they reasonably suspect the person is acting illegally a jury is duty bound to acquit them of false arrest.
    [But of course private sector employers will err on the side ofcaution because the cost of shoplifting is a fraction of the cost of a prosecution for false arrest.]
    Serwotka is lying.

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