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UK border staff in France are failing to take the fingerprints of thousands of illegal immigrants caught trying to enter Britain, inspectors say. The Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration said records should be kept in case the same people later claimed asylum in the UK. John Vine also said people-smugglers were not being fined heavily enough. The Home Office pointed to positive elements of the report and said it had “already addressed” some of the issues. However, Home Secretary Theresa May has redacted [blacked out] some sections of the reporting, prompting opposition politicians to ask what the government was trying to hide. Overall, Mr Vine said the UK was working well with France and Belgium on stopping illegal immigration. But inspectors found UK officials at Calais had stopped taking photographs and fingerprints of illegal immigrants in 2010 because of problems with the availability of cells to hold people in. This was also later stopped at Coquelles. Mr Vine said: “Gathering biometric information such as fingerprints could assist the decision-making process if these individuals were ultimately successful in reaching the UK and went on to claim asylum.” ‘Lille loophole’ In the 12 months from September 2011, more than 8,000 illegal immigrants were caught and stopped from entering the UK in vehicles and other containers at Calais, Coquelles and Dunkirk. Under a system called “juxtaposed controls”, people travelling on certain routes between the UK, France and Belgium go through immigration checks before boarding a train or ferry rather than on arrival. Among his findings, Mr Vine said those trying to smuggle immigrants into Britain were being fined far less than the legal maximum.
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