Brian Sims

Home Secretary orders wide-ranging independent review of Border Force

HOME SECRETARY Priti Patel has ordered a wide-ranging and independent review of Border Force to assess its structure, powers, funding and priorities. The move is designed to ensure that Border Force can keep pace with today’s rapidly evolving threats and continue to protect the border, maintain security and prevent illegal migration.

The review procedure will be carried out by Alexander Downer as an Independent Reviewer. Downer boasts a wealth of relevant experience to bring to this review, having previously served as Australian High Commissioner to the UK and as Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs. He’s currently executive chair at the International School for Government, King’s College London.

The first of its kind since Border Force was set up, the wide-ranging review is expected to take several months to complete. It will ensure that the UK Government is prepared for future challenges at the border by identifying change and improvements needed across Border Force’s work on illegal migration, customs and national security to help keep the UK safe, secure and prosperous.

Commenting on this development, Priti Patel said: “Border Force officers work tirelessly to protect our borders at 140 sea and air ports right across the UK. Since Border Force was set up in 2011, its remit has grown to meet the changing border threats we face and, in recent years, the organisation has supported the delivery of the Government’s Brexit commitments in addition to the necessary COVID-19 measures.”

Patel continued: “The public rightly expects this work to be carried out to the highest possible standard, which is why I’ve ordered this review of Border Force to identify ways in which it can keep on improving its operations. I have appointed Alexander Downer to conduct this vital work and look forward to his findings and recommendations.”

Any further detail concerning the review will be set out by the Independent Reviewer in due course.

Alexander Downer, Independent Reviewer of Border Force, responded: “I’m delighted that the Home Secretary has asked me to lead an independent review of Border Force to ensure the UK’s border is protected from the changing threats of today, as well as being prepared for future challenges.”

Downer went on to comment: “As an Independent Reviewer, I plan to lead a review that’s robust, evidence-based and outcome-orientated. I look forward to assessing Border Force’s structure, powers, funding and priorities and hearing from a wide range of voices both across the organisation and beyond.”

Statement on Cressida Dick’s resignation

On Thursday 10 February, Dame Cressida Dick (Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service) resigned from her role. Home Secretary Priti Patel has since thanked the Commissioner for her service in the role.

Patel noted: “Dame Cressida was the first woman to hold the post and has exemplified the increasingly diverse nature of our police service, demonstrating that all can aspire to hold leadership roles in policing in this country.”

As the Home Secretary prepares to begin the process of choosing Dame Cressida’s successor, she has been forthright in reassuring Londoners and people right across the country of her commitment to selecting the right leader for what is the largest police force in the country.

“Leading the Metropolitan Police Service is a privilege that comes with enormous and unique responsibilities,” outlined Patel. “The first duty is to protect the public, the people and the streets of our capital, making London a safer place to live, work and visit. The Commissioner is a national leader with a critical national role in respect of overseeing our counter-terrorism capability when there remain a variety of threats posed by individuals and groups who wish this country harm.”

There’s no doubt that the role of Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner is the biggest leadership role in policing. At this particular juncturee, the challenges facing the new Commissioner are stark and could not be more sobering. Following a series of appalling and sickening incidents and too many historical cases involving serving Metropolitan Police Service officers, Patel stated: “It’s clear that strong, decisive and new leadership will be required to restore public confidence.”

The Home Secretary observed: “Policing culture, conduct, attitudes and behaviours have rightly all come under scrutiny. Be in no doubt that the new leader must tackle these institutional issues that have brought great shame on elements of policing. I will appoint a Commissioner who will deliver for the public whom our police serves and represents. Beating crime, preventing crime, protecting our citizens, our streets and communities at a time when this Government is investing record sums into the police service is paramount.”

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