Thousands of suspected illegal immigrants are being allowed into Britain because the immigration service does not have the resources to detain them, a senior union official has said.
Public and Commercial Services union official Mike Norris, who represents immigration staff at Heathrow airport, has claimed staff shortages of nearly 20% have forced his officials to ‘cut corners’.
He said many passengers suspected of trying to enter Britain illegally are being let through.
“There are occasions when we want to detain people for various reasons, but we can’t because of a lack of detention facilities and staff,” Norris told the Sunday Times. “We give them temporary admission into the country, and occasionally they don’t leave.”
At Heathrow there should be 800 immigration officials, but there are only 640 because of recruitment problems. The under-staffing is compounded by a lack of cells. Detention centres such as Harmondsworth, in west London, sometimes do not have enough space for new detainees.
A Home Office spokesman denied that security was compromised by staff shortages, and said that there was enough space at detention centres.