The Guardian - London
9.30am BST update
Smith launches UK Border Agency
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Thursday April 03 2008. It was last updated at 09:33 on April 03 2008.
The new customs and immigration body, the UK Border Agency, was officially launched by the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, today.
The UKBA merges the work of 25,000 staff based in 135 countries, who previously operated in the Border and Immigration Agency, HM Revenue and Customs and UK Visas.
Ms Smith will unveil a new logo for the agency, which is geared up to combating smuggling, immigration crime and border tax fraud.
Agency staff will have a wide range of powers to board and search vehicles, aircraft and trains, and to enter premises, seize goods and detain suspects.
Opposition MPs, however, have criticised the government for failing to include police in the newly-merged organisation, calling it a huge rebranding exercise since the body will have no new powers.
A Home Office spokesman said: "The new agency will be the eyes and ears of the police at the border.
"It is committed to working with the police to improve, strengthen and better coordinate the security arrangements at ports and airports."
He pointed out that workers in UKBA will have a wide range of powers to board and search vehicles, aircraft and trains, and to enter premises, seize goods and detain suspects.
The Conservative shadow immigration spokesman, Damian Green, said: "It's the same people doing the same job as they were doing yesterday.
"If the government has to hype up a change to the system like this it is saying the system clearly isn't good enough."
UKBA staff will not all have the same uniform at present, because a new outfit was introduced for Border and Immigration Agency frontline staff a year ago.
The Home Office spokesman said a new uniform would be introduced at a later stage.
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