Immigration Minister Pledges More Heathrow Immigration Staff

The much-reported lengthy queues at London’s Heathrow immigration desks have caused the government to announce an increase in staff numbers to be made available at the airport.

It fell to immigration minister, Damian Green, to inform the UK parliament that the government’s original plan, which was to recruit 70 Border Force staff at the airport to be in place after the Olympic Games end in August, had been brought forward.

In making the announcement to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Green said, ‘The queue levels we’ve seen at some times of the day, particularly at Heathrow and Stansted, are not acceptable. That’s why we have taken the measures we have already taken and we will take more measures. This is a problem we need to continue gripping. We are taking practical steps to address the issue of queues but at the same time the first priority has to be the security of our border.’

Other interested parties that addressed the committee included Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, the owner and operator of Heathrow and Stansted Airports, and representatives of major airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Speaking of the delays through Heathrow, Matthews said that they had, ‘got worse since the summer of 2010,’ adding, ‘It has been more noticed and commented on in recent months, But it has deteriorated since summer 2010. We can detect some improvement in last week or so. I believe that it’s because of the additional resources that have been made available.’