13 May 2011 07:02 AM
Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency publishes report on Croydon arrest team

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 11 May 2011

(Embargoed until 00:01 13 May 2011)

The UK Border Agency needs to ensure that its arrest teams are fully compliant with the Agency’s policy and guidance, said John Vine CBE QPM, the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, publishing his short-notice inspection report of the Croydon arrest team.

The inspection took place on 8 February 2011 and focused on the police-like powers of arrest and the associated powers of entry, search and seizure.

At the time of inspection, the Chief Inspector was pleased to find that:

* there were clear processes in place to ensure that all arrest team members had received the required arrest training and refresher training; and
* Agency staff acted courteously and clearly identified themselves at all times.

However, the Chief Inspector was concerned to find that:

* there was significant non-compliance with the UK Border Agency’s policy and guidance;
* the first visit briefing lacked formality and structure and failed to present all relevant information e.g. the Officer in Charge did not initially mention that the person who was the focus of the visit was four months pregnant and no reference was made to the immigration powers that the arrest team were likely to rely on during the visit;
* the second visit had not been authorised in writing and although officers received permission to enter the property, it did not meet the requirements of informed consent; and
* the Agency’s visit records did not present a clear audit trail, potentially leaving the Agency open to accusations of poor professional standards.

John Vine, Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, said:

"Arrest team operations are one of the most challenging and high profile areas of work undertaken by the UK Border Agency and it is vital that this work is performed consistently and sensitively.

"During my short-notice inspection of the Croydon arrest team, I found significant non-compliance with the Agency's policy and guidance. This lack of compliance was observed in the briefings held before the visits and during the operational activity. I was also concerned to find that the records of both visits were difficult to follow and lacked clarity – potentially leaving the Agency open to accusations of poor professional standards.

"Given these findings, I intend to conduct another similar short-notice inspection of an arrest team within the next six months."


Notes to Editors:

1. This report can be found on the Independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency’s website from 13 May 2011 at www.independent.gov.uk/icinspector/news

2. The Chief Inspector is independent of the UK Border Agency and is required to report annually to the Secretary of State.

3. The UK Border Agency was given 24 hours notice of our intention to inspect an unspecified arrest team in the London region, primarily to ensure the availability of the Agency cover officers (responsible for the safety of arresting officers or observers, such as our inspectors).


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