BORDER security weaknesses have been identified at all sea ports including the port of Tilbury reports the BBC.
The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration said half of the small ports, marinas and wharfs had not been visited by the Border Force for more than a year, and reported a shortage of staff able to use specialist scanners.
Staff at Gatwick airport were also said to be under “considerable strain”.
Chief Inspector David Bolt’s report also revealed that the number of clandestine migrants detected at the ports had almost doubled in the 12 months between 2014-15 and 2015-16, rising from 233 to 423.
Overall, Border Force officers were “stretched” but “coping”, Mr Bolt concluded.
His inspection team found that at one port, car boots were “not systematically checked” and on two days that inspectors visited, no tourists arriving in cars were searched.
“Officers at one port said that they had lost the majority of their experienced scanner drivers to earlier voluntary exit schemes designed to achieve budget reductions,” he said.
“They had also lost officers with expertise in interpreting the images produced by a scanner.”
At one of the larger ports, Hull, delays were created by staff taking the fingerprints of illegal immigrants using wet ink – a procedure the inspectors said were from the “19th Century”.
Issues were also highlighted at other major ports – Harwich, Tilbury, Felixstowe, Rosyth and Immingham – including staff shortages.
Mr Bolt concluded: “The inspection found that Border Force, given the practicalities, was generally efficient and effective in managing the fixed immigration control points at the major seaports, and in dealing on an intelligence-led basis with vehicle and freight arrivals.
“By contrast, coverage of smaller ports, harbours and marinas was poor.
“The numbers of clandestine arrivals identified by Border Force at east coast ports had indeed increased, and Border Force was dealing appropriately with individuals, whether they claimed asylum or agreed to be removed immediately.
“The overall sense was that Border Force was stretched, in some instances too thinly, but coping.”