14 February 2012

UK immigration chief claims process left in chaos

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A UK immigration officer has claimed that shift changes at Manchester Airport have left the arrivals process in chaos, with overworked staff dealing with as many as 2,000 passengers at once.

UK visa

Mr Whitworth claimed he had pursued the case against the UKBA to highlight the issue.

Paul Whitworth, a chief UK immigration officer for over a decade, claims that since changes were made to shift patterns a year ago, as few as five or six members of staff are having to process as many as 2,000 passengers at once with planes arriving carrying 500 people at once during summer.

Mr Whitworth said the new 'team working' system implemented at Manchester Airport meant that there were fewer shift patterns and staff were struggling to cope with demand, even missing meal breaks.

"We can only work late or early now, the problem with that being if you have to give meal breaks then they coincide with busy times," said Mr Whitworth.

"The worst case scenario would be in Terminal Two, you have aircraft with 300-plus passengers or 500 in the summer. It's not just one flight arriving at a time - you could have five or six, bringing up to 2,000 people to deal with.

"It can be chaotic. Staff are totally demoralised. You do worry mistakes could be made."

Mr Whitworth brought his case before a tribunal in Manchester as he pursued a claim against the UK Border Agency (UKBA). Tribunal judge Pauline Feeney dismissed the claim, saying that, while the issue could be resolved, the case had little chance of success at a proper hearing.

"I'm sorry [the case is being dismissed]. Hopefully, this can be a matter that can be resolved," said Mrs Feeney.

"It's an interesting issue but unfortunately it falls outside the jurisdiction of this tribunal."

The UKBA, who have faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks over the border fiasco last summer when UK visa checks were suspended during busy periods, declined to comment on the case but UKBA Inspector Kenneth Patten, Mr Whitworth's manager, gave evidence at the hearing.

Mr Patten claimed there was no reason meal breaks could not be taken but acknowledged that the service could become extremely busy.


The UK Visa Bureau is an independent immigration consultancy specialising in helping people prepare for their UK Ancestry Visa application.

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