According to the Immigration Services Union (ISU), UK immigration officials are encountering more than 100 people a day attempting to enter the country with fake COVID-19 test certificates.
Speaking at a parliamentary briefing, UK Border Force staff described the certificates- which are essential in order for UK entry clearance to be granted- as ‘very easy’ to forge.
Additionally, the ISU’s Lucy Moreton warned that long queues at UK Border checkpoints are ‘breeding grounds’ for the spread of COVID-19. This comes after reports of six hour long queues at airport immigration checkpoints.
As it stands, provision of a COVID test certificate is a necessary requirement for any person attempting to cross the UK border, including UK citizens and individuals who have been vaccinated.
Negative tests can’t be proven
When Moreton was asked how UK border staff verify the validity of a negative COVID-19 test certificate, she replied: “We can’t, is the simple answer. Proof is predominantly based on taking people’s word for it. We do get 100 or more a day fake COVID certificates, that we catch.”
According to Moreton, the easiest way to detect a falsified test certificate is to look for spelling errors, but for documents in different languages, this process is hugely difficult:
“The documents are checked against a series of code numbers, but these things are easy to create electronically unfortunately.
A lot of the border and immigration and migration and quarantine controls are based on trust: we trust people when they say they have not been in a red list country in the last 10 days; we trust people when they say that they are going to 2 Acacia Avenue to quarantine; we trust that there is an Acacia Avenue and that when they are going to go there, they are going to stay there.”
Based on assumption
Moreton also pointed out that the entire test certificate checking process rests on the assumption that people will ‘do the right thing’.
Further to this, the recent spate of fake certificates has not come without warning. International police organisation Europol previously raised concerns regarding the emergence of the forged documents, which are reportedly sold for around £100.
Gabriel Scally, visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol and a member of the Independent Sage committee, spoke at the same parliamentary evidence session attended by UK Border Force staff.
Professor Scally said:
“Holiday destinations could become international mixing pots after travel restrictions are relaxed, especially with the government potentially allowing people to head abroad as early as May.
I don’t believe in reds and greens – I believe in quarantine or not quarantine.”
No half quarantine
Professor Scally also made the point that there is no such thing as half-quarantine, and that quarantine must be done either properly or not at all.
Further to this, Scally aimed criticism at the UK government, arguing that ‘this has been the UK’s position for far, far too long.”
Professor Scally said:
“We have no idea where people are starting their journey, where they transmitted or what transport they’ve used from place to place. This will become a bigger problem in holiday season. Whether a country is green or red to me as a public health doctor, I’m not interested, I want to manage the isolation of people arriving from abroad at this time.”
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UK immigration personnel are reporting more than 100 people a day attempting to enter the country with fake COVID certificates. [Image: Unsplash]
Professor Scally, visiting professor of public health at the University of Bristol, has stated that quarantine must be done properly or not at all. [Image: Scally Review]
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