UK government publishes new report ‘Border security: an introduction to UK capability’

Paul Lincoln, Director General of UK Border Force, offers his view of the future of border security from a government perspective.

The border is vital for the nation’s security, prosperity, and global reputation. As well as facilitating legitimate travel and trade in support of the economy, the border is a unique intervention point to prevent terrorists, criminals, and illicit goods from reaching the nation’s streets and to prevent illegal migration. By doing so, the border protects public services, businesses, and communities from harm.

Over the coming years, pressures on the border will continue to develop as migration trends and criminal activities evolve, alongside potential environmental changes and health challenges like those we have recently seen. Indeed, the last year has shown how external influences, such as a global health pandemic, can demand a rapid change to working practices at the border and has demonstrated the need to make better use of technology and data; to invest in the skills and agility of border officials; and to improve collaboration between government, law enforcement, the private sector and international partners.

A major pressure on the border is that of increasing volumes of legitimate flow essential to the nation’s prosperity. This means that the border needs to be as efficient, smart, and responsive as possible to improve the border crossing experience whilst maintaining the highest standards of security. Rising to this challenge requires technology to manage the flow of people and goods and the implementation of digital services to make the border as seamless and intuitive as possible for legitimate traders and travellers.

To achieve this, government and industry must collaborate to develop technology and procedures which, for example, can improve the quality and timeliness of information available at the border’s primary control points. This can benefit traders throughout the end-to-end process of crossing the border by ensuring that there are fewer checks and that those checks that are required are faster, consolidated and consistently applied. This improves certainty for traders, lowers end-to-end cost and improves supply chain resilience. Significantly, increasing the use of automation for routine tasks will also allow Border Force officers to focus on those traders or travellers who pose the greatest risk, or on identifying individuals who may be at risk of modern slavery or being trafficked.

Full report can be downloaded at