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UK border control can't count

6? 147? What's the difference

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Are UK immigration officials bungling the proper checks on visa applications? If their fact-checking abilities are any indication, there's reason to worry.

This July, Linda Costelloe Baker - the then-Independent Monitor for Clearance Refusals - claimed that border control offices overseas are understaffed, overworked, and inconsistent in applying British immigration rules. And the report was promptly denied by the UK Border Agency.

Lin Homer, the Chief executive of the UK Border Agency, shot back at the report, saying "Our decisions are fair and objective, and last year the Independent Monitor only asked for six refusal decisions to be reconsidered."

Which would be an outstanding record if only it was within — say, 140 instances of the actual number.

Baker warned in her report that "Material evidence is, increasingly, misread or overlooked." And indeed it was. The UK Border Agency admitted today that its calculations were a bit off. Homer's claim that the Border Agency reconsidered only six decisions last year was incorrect for three small reasons:

  • The figure quoted was from 2007.
  • It was only from cases considered during a 6-month period during 2007.
  • It wasn't even the correct number of decisions Baker asked the agency to look at during that time.

The Border Agency now admits that Baker's report actually raised concerns of about 147 cases during the six-month period. But to be fair, the numbers 147 and six are extremely close when you consider the damn things stretch out to infinity.

On a scale of one to 10, we give this mathematical blunder a 34. ®

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