Local MP Russell Brown has said it “beggar’s belief” that the UK Border Agency has not yet carried out a risk assessment for Lochryan port – more than nine months after it opened.
A risk assessment is normally carried out by UK Border Force officers to check that adequate controls are in place to mitigate the threat of breaches of immigration.
In a letter released in response to a Freedom of Information request from Mr Brown, Phil Taylor, director of UKBA, Scotland and Northern Ireland, confirmed no risk assessment has been carried out at the Lochryan port.
The UK Border Agency has repeatedly been warned about the need for risk assessments. In 2008, a report by HM Inspector of Constabulary said Customs should develop a “robust risk assessment process that addresses the risks along the UK border and which may provide coverage to many locations which currently lack any uniform presence”.
In 2011 the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine, also raised the requirement for risk assessments.
A UKBA report in June into the new arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Galloway ports showed that the number of immigration offenders detected coming into the UK through the ports from Northern Ireland soared by 136% in the past year. In that same month, Dumfries and Galloway police seized one of their largest ever drug hauls at the ports, with a street value of £2.1 million.
Mr Brown said: “It beggars belief that the Lochryan port has been open for more than nine months and yet the UK Border Agency has never carried out a risk assessment. The purpose of a risk assessment is to assess whether adequate controls are in place to tackle the threat of illegal immigration. Given all the security concerns and recent cuts to ports police, this is vitally important for the Lochryan port and I am astounded that the Border Agency didn’t do this as soon as the new port opened.
“The Galloway ports are the second busiest ports in the UK and a well known nexus point for illegal immigration. The number of immigration offenders detected coming into the UK through the ports has soared by 136% in the past year. Alarm bells should be ringing but UKBA hasn’t even done the basics.
“I have written to the Home Secretary to ask her to personally intervene to ensure a risk assessment is carried out as a matter of urgency.”