More than 649,000 alerts relating to potential drug and tobacco smuggling into the UK were deleted from a Government computer system for border controls without being read, the inspection found.
The deletions had a “significant impact” on the ability of staff at the border to seize banned goods and arrest those responsible for smuggling them into the country, the Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine said.
After last year’s passenger queues at Heathrow and other airports, immigration chiefs have taken staff away from customs checks to process passengers. A series of reports by Mr Vine have highlighted how this new focus has led to the neglect of work to stop drugs and contraband.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, censored swathes of the latest report which found the £500 million “e-Borders” computer project is still not operating properly nearly a decade after it began, and is failing to stop foreign criminals and smugglers entering the UK.
Mrs May ordered the deletion of 39 passages in the document, including sections which were critical of how the Border Force handled “high profile” alerts. Her censorship means it will remain secret whether the Border Force is failing to stop foreigners — including dangerous criminals, child abusers and war criminals — who try to get into Britain despite having been deported or excluded.