“The UK government has made a commitment to reintroduce exit checks by 2015. The Home Office will deliver on this commitment,” said the Home Office in July. Actually, it probably won’t, replied deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
Home secretary Theresa May told Parliament’s home affairs committee in April that exit checks were tied up with the e-Borders scheme. And that tie-up is why, on this issue, it may be advisable to agree with Nick.
The UK dropped paper-based embarkation controls in 1994 for ferries and in 1998 for everyone else, as they were seen as a waste of time and money. However, this left no comprehensive way of checking if people overstay their visas and limits the government’s knowledge of people leaving the country. There have been plans to bring exit controls back since at least 2006. The reason this has not happened appears to be a classic example of government surveillance overreach.