Duncan Lewis


Asylum, Detention/ Fast Track

Managed Migration, Public Law

A new scheme to direct tourists from trusted countries to separate lanes at Heathrow would start after Olympics

Date: (11 July 2012)    |    

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The Border Force would pilot a scheme which would facilitate low risk tourists from trusted countries to be directed to fast track lanes in a bid to cut queues a the Heathrow Airport after the Olympics, Damien Green the Immigration Minister said.
If the pilot becomes successful the Government would seek a reciprocal arrangement from the countries involved to make it easier for Britons travelling abroad Mr Green told MPs.
An earlier pilot scheme was unsuccessful as visitors struggled to identify which queue they ought to be in, Mr Green told MPs.
But the new scheme to start after the Olympics would be meant for visitors from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Japan, he said.
A very short pilot was taken for Australians and Americans, Japanese, New Zealanders and Canadians, Mr Green told the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee. But he said the pilot was creating more confusion than solutions because of how the terminal was configured.
He added that idea of having separate desks and lanes would be easier if people who do not need visas are segregated from those who need visas which is something worthy of looking at.
He went on that first the problems here have to be solved and then the same advantage could be sought for British citizens around the world.
It comes as the troubled UK Border Agency reveals it is bringing in a private firm to track down a backlog of at least 150,000 missing migrants who have been refused permission to stay in the UK.
Mr Green said the firm would try to contact all those migrants in the backlog of cases who have been refused permission to stay in the UK but who may still be in the country illegally.
John Vine, the chief inspector of borders and immigration, said last week that tracking down absconders and removing them from the country was not seen as a priority for the agency.
At least 150,000 migrants have been refused permission to stay in the UK but the authorities do not know how many have actually left, the watchdog said. But Mr Green admitted that this figure could be growing by up to 100 a day as more and more visas expire.
A pilot scheme using Serco has so far removed more than 2,000 people in the last two months, and the ministry was in the middle of a procurement exercise to employ a private provider to deal with all these migration refusal cases he added.