Lord Stevens to head Tory border plan
Cameron vows to tighten up border controls
By Paul Willis and agencies
Last Updated: 1:19am GMT 27/02/2007
The Tories have recruited Lord Stevens, the ex-commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, to head a working group charged with fleshing out plans for a 10,000-strong border police force.
The latest weapon in the battle with the government for the law and order agenda, the appointment of Lord Stevens will be announced today by Conservative leader David Cameron.
Mr Cameron will insist that “porous” controls contribute to pressing social problems. The Government wants to deal with problems of co-ordination by introducing ID cards, but their priorities are “completely wrong”, according to Mr Cameron.
“Right now, our society is not properly defended against the drug dealers, people smugglers, gun importers and terrorists who find it all too easy to bypass the current system,” he will say. “No single organisation is responsible for performing this vital task. Instead we have at least six separate agencies, including Revenue and Customs, the Immigration Service, the security services, harbour police, Soca, and the Metropolitan Police.”
Instead the Tories would scrap the project and spend some of the money creating a “fully integrated” border police force. It would be part of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca), and focus on preventing and detecting illegal immigration, stopping terror suspects coming into the UK, and cracking down on the trade in human beings.
Mr Cameron will claim there is a “growing consensus” for such a move, and it has been backed by the Association of Chief Police Officers, current Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, and the Home Affairs Select Committee.
Lord Stevens, who recently completed a high-profile inquiry into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, will chair an “expert and experienced” group to consider how the idea would work in practice.”
“I'm very pleased that David Cameron and David Davis have asked me to lead this working group to develop their border police policy. It is essential that Britain has secure borders and one element of that must be a dedicated and effective border police force,” Lord Stevens said.
However, Immigration minister Liam Byrne said Mr Cameron's plans were nothing more than “posture politics” backed up by “fantasy finances”. “His plans to shut down Britain's ID infrastructure will prevent us stopping illegal journeys and tackling illegal jobs,” he said. “His plans will render this country defenceless against illegal migration.