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What our useless border guards should learn from the Swiss


According to a 2017 EU report, Sweden has the worst border control in Europe, a finding which was allegedly hushed up to prevent the country’s electorate being unduly influenced when they went to the polls this month. Its key criticisms are that the Swedish border agents get rubbish training, don’t know how to detect a duff document, and can’t even recognise a returning jihadi.

How very ironic, from a political union obsessed with its four unshakeable freedoms, including free movement across the Schengen area – the technically borderless vision of the EU. Borders? Who needs borders? they used to shout, until Frau Merkel unilaterally opened the doors to over a million unchecked/undocumented ‘refugees’ and ushered in unplanned-for consequences. So that now, the EU is calling for effective external border control.

The Swedish Evening Post has published a leaked part of this report, dealing with external borders. It found a lack of skills at the border, new recruits having a mere nine weeks of training but no knowledge of immigration law, an inability to check for validity or terrorist association, and poor manning. In short, ‘there is no actual border control’. Meanwhile, experienced officers claimed the report was ‘an understatement’.

Sweden is not alone in this regard. The Migration Watch UK think tank has issued a report  claiming that illegal immigration into Britain is rising by 70,000 a year. The Home Office admits to around 430,000 people living illegally in the UK – hugely understating Migration Watch’s estimate of more than a million, with only around 35,000 ever deported. Its report identifies an urgent need to boost immigration enforcement by £100 million.

The Gov.UK website lists a section on the Border Force UK, setting out BF’s immigration and borders policies in detail. There are 40 individual policies listed per page, and there are 55 pages! Under the section ‘Working for BF’, it explains that it’s the force’s responsibility to make sure the UK border is secure and safe 24/7. ‘Security will always be our top priority, and with both data and intelligence, we have a clear picture of those wanting to enter the country. It’s about blending this knowledge with the skills and intuition of our officers that . . . we’re able to stop certain individuals . . . from crossing our borders.’ Well, nul points on that one.

The longest section is devoted to recruitment, and BF’s commitment to Diversity. ‘We encourage applications from all backgrounds and circumstances. BF is a “Disability Confident Employer”, has been recognised as a Top Employer for Women and Stonewall Top Employer, and has a listing by Business in the Community as a race-inclusive employer.’ Nowhere does it specify what skills, aptitudes, or qualifications might be required, nor the nationality/citizenship of applicants.

How do Sweden and the UK compare in this respect with Switzerland, where I live? The Swiss Border Guard is uniformed and armed, and its members are subject to military criminal law. It enforces border security under the Schengen Agreement and participates in the EU’s Frontex operations. There are seven regional commands and four operational centres, all overseen by a central command in Bern, which co-ordinates, inter alia, training and international operations. Employment is open to Swiss citizens only.

The training documentation is a must-read. There are three years of intensive basic training. On completion of Year 1, which includes border guard and customs service, law and criminology, document verification, shooting and security techniques, psychosocial skills, and sport (!), trainees are required to be sworn in – making a ceremonial and solemn promise to carry out their work with care, and safeguard the interests of the Confederation; also proving that they are fit to be an official, both inside and outside the workplace, to guarantee that the public’s trust in the State is not undermined. This oath is considered above all, a moral obligation, and to refuse means automatic resignation. Phew!

In light of Migration Watch’s findings, I can’t help thinking about the growing number of UK institutions – recently from rail management to the Electoral Commission – which now stand accused of being Not Fit for Purpose.

The EU has steadily been replicating, then replacing, many of the expert institutions of its member countries, such as law, food and employment regulations, energy, education and so on; and, with the relaxation of inter-EU borders, the manpower and skills of the individual border forces. This capability is quickly lost but, as Sweden and the UK are finding, difficult, time-consuming and costly to re-instigate, when circumstances and political objectives change. It certainly can’t be magicked up after nine weeks of training. Switzerland has never relinquished this security to the EU, and continues to operate with professional expertise and success.

With the EU now admitting to the massive future problem of illegal migration from the Middle East, Asia and Africa, as well as challenges from existing immigrant numbers to high-welfare societies, on housing, health, education etc, what hope for individual states who have taken their eye off the ball, or even dropped it altogether?

Recent TCW articles have emphasised the urgent need for the UK government to formulate a coherent national policy on immigration. But that’s only the first step. Without a highly trained and effective Border Force, sufficiently manned and resourced, and committed to operating in the national interest, such a policy is no more functional than yet another long-winded EU-style annual report.

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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