Poor preparation of no-deal Brexit UK borders could aid organised crime
Criminal organisations could take advantage of gaps in the UK border preparations for a no-deal Brexit to commit fraud and smuggle goods.
The National Audit Office released a report on Wednesday saying that the government and businesses were not fully prepared for the risks posed by Brexit, despite the deadline lying less than two weeks away.
"Mitigating the risks could be outside of government's control," it warned. “It’s impossible to know exactly what would happen at the border in the event of no-deal".
Businesses and the government will face new challenges come 31 October.
"This includes supporting businesses and individuals in meeting their new obligations, mitigating risks of the border becoming vulnerable to fraud, smuggling or other criminal activity, and activating civil contingency plans if necessary," the report said.
According to the NAO, Westminster had been unable to mitigate the most "significant risks" to the effective functioning of the UK border in the event of no deal.
HM Revenue & Customs had estimated that 150,000 to 250,000 traders might need to make a customs declaration on the first day after Brexit. Of that number, only 25,000 had registered thus far.
"Preparing the UK border for EU exit with or without a deal is extremely complex and has required a huge amount of work from many government departments, agencies and third parties such as traders," said NAO head Gareth Davies.
"Despite their efforts, significant risks remain which may have consequences for the public and businesses."