UK immigration staff told not to apologise for border delays

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01 May 2012


The UK Border Agency (UKBA) has told UK border staff at London's Heathrow Airport to stop apologising for UK immigration delays. UK immigration staff had been handing out leaflets to passengers waiting in queues apologizing for "very long delays" at immigration checks.

In recent weeks, tensions have grown over increasingly long immigration check delays after security had been heightened following last year's border row when immigration border officials reduced passport and visa checks without ministerial approval.

Delays especially lengthened over the Easter period and the following weeks with some passengers reporting they had to wait up to three hours at border checks. In order to defuse the growing tension, Heathrow staff were handing out a leaflet informing passengers they 'deserved a warmer welcome' and advised disgruntled passengers to complain to the Home Office.

Marc Owen, director of UKBA operations at Heathrow, told immigration staff: "The leaflet is not alright with us. It is both inflammatory and likely to increase tensions in arrivals halls especially in the current atmosphere. It is inappropriate in that it is not for you to display how to complain on our behalf."

London Mayor Boris Johnson said the delays gave "a terrible impression of the UK" three months before the London Olympics. On an average day, Heathrow typically handles an around 190,000 arriving and departing passengers.

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