New report demands transparency

The controversial e-Borders scheme, which is due to include yachtsmen by March 2014, has been slammed by a new report for failing to deliver an ‘exported border.’

John Vine, the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has now demanded the Home Office ‘define clearly what the aims of the e-Borders programme are ahead of the new procurement exercise, and be transparent about what e-Borders will deliver and by when.’

The scheme, which was started 10 years ago and which has already cost the taxpayer £500 million, has only managed to collect data on 65 per cent of all passenger movements into the UK, with Advanced Passenger Information forms.

Concerns raised by the RYA were also acknowledged in Mr Vine’s 50-page report.

‘We maintain our long-held view that the e-Borders reporting methodology is simply not designed to accommodate the unscheduled activities of the recreational boating sector,’ said Gus Lewis, Head of Legal & Government Affairs.
‘We welcome the acknowledgement in this report of the legal and practical issues that the RYA pointed out to the e-Borders team several years ago but it is concerning that the Chief Inspector did not seek to address these issues when formulating his recommendations.’
Despite explaining in some detail the ‘incompatibility between the e-Borders scheme and EU free movement and data protection legislation’ and’ the ‘legal and practical issues hindering the collection of passenger data’and specifically acknowledging the concerns raised by the RYA in relation to leisure craft, the report offers no suggestions as to how these issues might be addressed.
Instead it goes on to recommend that the Home Office: ‘Introduces a reporting and risk assessment process for GM [General Marine] traffic based on the e-Borders system and a process to provide for interception of vessels on a risk basis’.
‘The Home Office has from the outset expressed its desire to implement the e-Borders programme in the maritime leisure sector so, in this respect, the Chief Inspector’s recommendation is nothing new.
‘We will continue to oppose the implementation of a regime in which all cross-border voyages to and from other EU states by recreational craft are required to be notified to the UK Government in advance of the voyage,’ concludes Mr Lewis.