Portsmouth council leaders’ blast over port security changes

UNDER FIRE Immigration controls were relaxed in Portsmouth
UNDER FIRE Immigration controls were relaxed in Portsmouth
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POLITICIANS in Portsmouth have criticised Home Secretary Theresa May after she admitted border checks at the city’s port were relaxed under a controversial scheme.

She is under fire for authorising a pilot scheme which saw checks on biometric passports suspended for some EU travellers.

Mrs May confirmed in a letter to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee that Portsmouth International Port was among 28 sites where controls had been eased during the summer.

Now the Lib Dem leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, has said someone in the local authority should have been made aware of the change.

‘I don’t think the UK Border Agency understands how Portsmouth’s port works,’ he said.

‘And the Home Secretary seems to have done this in such a underhand way.

‘They certainly never contacted us about it.’

He added that it was too early to say if Mrs May should resign. ‘Clearly there have been significant mistakes made by the Home Office and as minister in charge she must take responsibility,’ he said.

‘We should be able to run our borders in an effective way, where we catch people who are not allowed to be here or are up to no good.’

MP for Portsmouth South Mike Hancock said: ‘This shouldn’t have happened.

‘The whole idea behind what we are trying to do is stop people with criminal records getting into the country.

‘We have been very successful in the past at discovering illegal immigrants coming into Portsmouth.

‘But if people coming in from the EU are just given a free pass, you have no idea who is being let in – and that’s really worrying.’

He added: ‘I’m disappointed with the Home Secretary.’

Deputy Conservative group leader and finance boss Donna Jones said: ‘We need a complete overhaul of the locations around the country that relaxed these controls.

‘Although number of these measures were first put in place under the previous government, and this is all a sad reflection of the dire financial situation the country was left in by Labour.’

The Home Office and UK Border Agency declined to comment.