Queues of people waiting to pass through passport control at Heathrow last week make you wonder about the competence of the Border Force, which deals with immigration checks. Travellers arriving at Terminals 3 and 5 had to wait hours for their documents to be checked. Chris Bryant, the shadow immigration minister, said the Government had displayed “utter incompetence”. Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, insisted it was the previous government’s fault: the system was in a state of “complete chaos” when the Coalition inherited it.
It’s going to get worse. The Immigration Services Union plans a series of strikes, starting on Thursday. In 2006, John Reid described the immigration directorate as “not fit for purpose” – and it still isn’t. The UK Border Agency spent £9 million on installing iris-recognition machines, only to discover that they do not work properly.