Border staff with only basic training and little immigration experience are being used to cut queues at Heathrow Airport during the Olympics, a watchdog warned today.
Extra staff drafted in to help ease congestion in the arrivals hall also lack confidence and are taking more time to process passengers despite asking fewer questions, John Vine, the independent chief inspector of borders and immigration, said.
The Border Force is also rehiring ex-employees who left their jobs as it prepares to deal with more than 100,000 passengers a day during the busiest periods of the Olympics, he revealed.
Some staff "remained concerned about the potential risks of employing staff on the immigration control who had received only basic training and who had no immigration background/experience", Mr Vine said in his report.
"Staff also expressed concerns about similar problems recurring after the Olympics, if resources were not sufficient to meet the increasing passenger flows coming through Heathrow."
Some 500 extra staff have been drafted in to achieve this, including those who had retired or moved on to other jobs, and all are having a positive impact on queues, the Border Force said.
Training will also be given to other Home Office and UKBA staff to enable them to work on the immigration desks, known as the primary control point, the report said.
But the inspection in April found that officers brought in to the immigration desks from the secondary examination area "appeared less confident when processing passengers".
– Yvette Cooper MP
The Olympic countdown has started yet the Home Secretary still hasn't sorted the chaos at our borders caused by her decision to cut so many staff this year.
"Re-employing former immigration staff, having cut nearly 900 people from the Border Force since the general election, is a damning self-admission of failure and a waste of taxpayer's money too.
"The scale of staff cuts and the Home Secretary's failure to sort out the management problems has meant queues of over two hours just weeks before the Olympics start."
He also questioned whether equipment to detect forged documents was being used correctly as detection levels in Terminal 3 were more than a third lower than in Terminal 4.
Some 275 forgeries were detected in Terminal 4 between April 2010 and March this year, compared with 177 in Terminal 3.
Some staff reported that this was "partly the result of faulty forgery detection equipment at some of the desks" in Terminal 3.