MPs say Britain must boost border staff to maintain 'crucial security functions' after Brexit
MPs have said there is a “significant risk” that staff may be diverted from protecting borders to deal with a post-Brexit increase in customs activity.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee said the Government's plans to boost border enforcement staff by 4% was “completely unconvincing” and insisted that “security must not be put at risk by government failure to plan”.
They say imposition of tariffs or monitoring of customs declarations on goods from other member states after March 2019 could prove a "major border disruption" unless ministers up their commitment to safeguard the country’s borders.
HMRC has previously called for an extra 5,000 staff to cope with the extra workload, while the Government has pledged an extra 300 border staff in position on the day Britain quits the bloc – prompting calls from the committee for "urgent co-ordinated staff planning" between the two.
"We find these plans for such a small increase in border staff completely unconvincing, particularly given the current uncertainty and the need for contingency planning," their report said.
"If new customs arrangements require a substantial increase in customs capacity which cannot be delivered in time, then there is a significant risk that Border Force staff will be diverted from crucial security functions, including preventing smuggling, the seizing of dangerous goods and immigration processes.
"The Home Office needs to plan for a significant further increase in border staffing and to ensure that arrangements are in place to prevent large numbers of staff being diverted away from other critical areas."
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