14 July 2009

UK Border Angst

I had the dubious pleasure of returning to the UK last weekend through East Midlands Airport and had my first taste of the new border security measures which this government belatedly seems to think are necessary (in their words), "to ensure only those eligible to enter the UK do so". On entering the terminal building we were confronted with a long snaking queue of slow moving humanity which was going nowhere fast. I was shocked, dismayed and angry in equal measure. It appeared that this was an exercise in control rather than one of ensuring the integrity of our borders; our passports were scanned and the immigration officer looked at her screen (not so much at me interestingly) to make sure a) I wasn't a wanted criminal, or b) a terrorist, and c) I was a British citizen (entering my own country BTW) and lord knows whatever other information the computer spewed on to its screen. This was Big Brother in action. It seems we are the only nation in the European Union which has such stringent measures in place at their border-last week we crossed between EU countries unchecked, unprocessed, unmolested.

I later read the words on the inside front cover of my passport. It read,
"Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State Requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty, all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance, and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary".

How ironic then that the only "hindrance" I discovered on my trip was when I wanted to re-enter my own country! Perhaps the Secretary of State should read his own blurb.

It took over 30 minutes to get through immigration at East Midlands Airport simply because there are not enough desks to process people quickly and efficiently. Perhaps if the government, who seem to be proud of their record on border security (see here) need to spend a bit more money on the infrastructure.

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