The minister, who was appointed to her new post on Monday 8 January, was met and briefed by Border Force Heathrow Director Mike Stepney on the important role officers have in protecting the UK border.
She saw roving officers with responsibility for safeguarding and modern slavery, and was given an overview of arrivals controls including ePassport gates. The minister also witnessed detection activity in the customs channels, including x-ray scanning equipment for drug swallowers, and detector dogs at work.
The visit concluded with a demonstration of Border Force’s work on the tarmac and freight areas of the airport. This included a search of freight goods by detector dogs and an aircraft which had recently landed.
Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes said:
I was really impressed by the breadth of activity at Heathrow during what was an incredibly interesting visit. What shone through was the dedication and professionalism of Border Force officers in keeping our country safe from illicit people and goods.
I am relishing the opportunity of taking on the immigration and borders brief for the Home Office and look forward to working with staff to keep our borders secure, while ensuring the UK remains open for business.
Border Force Deputy Chief Operating Office Mike Stepney said:
The minister was clearly impressed with the vital Border Force work she saw at Heathrow.
We will continue to crack down on all forms of criminal activity at the border including trafficking, smuggling and tax evasion.