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ForceHQ

Equipment and units

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ForceHQ

I must confess I know very little about the boarder force, with that in mind what equipment is standard? Do you all carry cuffs and can you/do you carry batons and CS.

Do you have a similar set up to HO police forces with CID style depts as well as core teams and operational support such as dogs and firearms?

Thanks

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Fritz

Very broadly... (and subject to local variations, and not wanting to offend any who's job isn't mentioned)

 

Most operational officers perform immigration, customs or both duties (multifunctional staff). There is a mix of staff fixed at specific ports and those who work on mobile teams of various descriptions, covering non-port duties and supporting ports when the need arises. Training is specific to the type of work, so some are better at taking cars apart, some can rummage ocean-going ships, and so on.

 

In addition, we have Intelligence teams across the country and support teams providing admin functions and backroom services that support operational staff. There are also operational specialisms like dog handling.

 

There's no investigation function within Border Force (BF). Once detected by BF staff, customs offences are investigated by the Border Policing Command of the National Crime Agency; immigration offences requiring criminal investigation generally go to Home Office Criminal Investigators (sometimes supported by seconded police officers)

 

All officers carrying out Customs functions and Immigration criminal functions are arrest trained. Equipment has traditionally been limited to cuffs and torches, along with the various tools needed to take cars and trucks and pretty much anything else apart. Limb restraints are also available. Body armour is available where duties/risk require it.

 

Batons were used by the old immigration service and continue to be issued in Immigration Enforcement (a seperate Home Office command which deals with non-border immigration matters) Recently though, batons have started to be rolled out for arrest trained staff in some areas of BF.

 

The Home Office has chosen not to issue PAVA, even though it is lower down on the use of force scale than batons, due to historic concern about CS gas spreading in confined spaces. Even though PAVA is more directional, this reluctance remains. While we have makesafe officers who secure and makesafe fireams which have been detected, there are no firearms officers, and no real need has been demonstrated to date.

Edited by Fritz@Customs

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ForceHQ
Author of the topic Posted

Thank you fritz that's a very well written and informative post. One if the reasons I asked is whenever you go abroad passport control officers always seam to have guns. Yet here we just have office chairs and rubber stamps :)

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Fritz

Thank you fritz that's a very well written and informative post. One if the reasons I asked is whenever you go abroad passport control officers always seam to have guns. Yet here we just have office chairs and rubber stamps :)

 

Most other countries seem to see border control as an entirely law enforcement function and equip their officers to their national law enforcement standard. In the UK, historically, immigration saw itself as less law enforcement than Customs, for example, and the approach and kit issued differed accordingly.

 

Although BF is going through a process of developing its law enforcement ethos, it's still trying to reconcile the traditional administrative powers approach of the immigration service with the criminal powers approach of Customs and hasn't yet got a perfect match between the two legacy functions. Consequently, you're more likely to see enforcement kit carried by those working in Customs areas or among the multifunctional staff.

 

Because of the mixing of legacy staff  at Passport Control, on any given day, the officer you see there could be equipped with nothing  more than a date stamp or  they could be carrying cuffs and limb restraints. Many still use the legacy Customs-issued folding cuffs in a small belt pouch rather than the rigid cuffs which are becoming slowly more popular, so their cuffs may not be obvious to a casual inspection.

 

Some traditionalists like the lack of enforcement kit at Passport Control and don't like the idea of being seen as law enforcement; others want to see the kit available whereever and whenever the need might arise in these changing times.It's been more than five years now and that debate still hasn't been settled.

Edited by Fritz@Customs

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Dirty harry

Thank you fritz that's a very well written and informative post. One if the reasons I asked is whenever you go abroad passport control officers always seam to have guns. Yet here we just have office chairs and rubber stamps :)

In some countries, Spain, Greece etc. passport control officers are just normal police officers. 

Edited by Dirty harry

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MindTheGap

The Home Office has chosen not to issue PAVA, even though it is lower down on the use of force scale than batons, due to historic concern about CS gas spreading in confined spaces. Even though PAVA is more directional, this reluctance remains. While we have makesafe officers who secure and makesafe fireams which have been detected, there are no firearms officers, and no real need has been demonstrated to date.

Is the exemption in law already in place then, or would it require an amendment (or the Home Secretary to permit the carriage/exemption from S5(1)(b))

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MindTheGap

I also see someone from Border Force at arrivals screening on the Eurostar carrying an ASP baton

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Fritz

Is the exemption in law already in place then, or would it require an amendment (or the Home Secretary to permit the carriage/exemption from S5(1)( B))

 

As Crown Servants, we're already able to possess prohibited weapons in the course of our duty, otherwise we couldn't handle and transport the ones that we seize.

 

If the Home Office ever changed it's mind about issuing PAVA, I wouldn't be surprised if they went for specific permission, just to dot the i's and cross the t's... but I'm not holding my breath for that to change.

Edited by Fritz@Customs

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Fritz

I also see someone from Border Force at arrivals screening on the Eurostar carrying an ASP baton

 

They're slowly rolling out in different areas. In time, they should be a lot more common.

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MindTheGap

As Crown Servants, we're already able to possess prohibited weapons in the course of our duty, otherwise we couldn't handle and transport the ones that we seize.

Police officers are also crown servants, but they still have a written exemption in S54 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as do police staff), I was just wondering if there was a written exemption in legislation to enable you to carry Captor or CS for deployment/use in defending yourselves?

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Fritz

Police officers are also crown servants, but they still have a written exemption in S54 of the Firearms Act 1968 (as do police staff), I was just wondering if there was a written exemption in legislation to enable you to carry Captor or CS for deployment/use in defending yourselves?

It's Section 54(2) that allows us to handle and transport seized firearms being 'in the service of Her Majesty'.

As s54(3) adds police to the definition of 'in the service of Her Majesty', so s54(2) would also give us the same authority to carry PAVA.

Not that I expect such a major change of opinion from the Home Office.

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MindTheGap

Deleted* 

Edited by MindTheGap

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CustomsBod

Resurrecting old threads like Dracula the undead...

Asp batons, rigid cuffs and leg restraints are now the norm, body armour of varying levels where required and PAVA on the table (which means it has not yet been procured). The discussion re Tazers has been banded about but, I fear, will only become an issue after the first death (or serious wounding) of an officer - a bit like traffic lights and speedbumps...

The Force is slowly becoming more cohesive but with many legact immigration officers in senior places they shirk (yes SHIRK) law enforcement tasks which means it is more important to check a passport then arrest a smuggler...

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