‘Border Force Bob’ is a member of the team responsible for securing the UK border at Heathrow. In the first episode of HBBA Series 4 we followed Bob’s investigation into the case of a Brazilian student visiting his expat brother.
Here’s what we asked Bob — tell us in the comments what else you’d like to know.
Q&A: Border Force Bob
Where are you from?
I was born in West Middlesex Hospital, Isleworth, and lived in Sunbury-on-Thames for many years before moving to Buckinghamshire. A number of my family have worked at Heathrow over the years for BEA, BOAC, BA, United and Air Canada, mostly working on the cargo side.
How long have you worked at Heathrow?
I joined the then Immigration Service at Heathrow Terminal 1 in 2005. I worked on the move of Border Force from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 from 2012 to 2014, after being part of the team in Terminal 1 dealing with the Olympic year. Along with a number of my colleagues, my name is recorded on the Union Jack found in the forecourt of Terminal 2.
How did you get into your job?
I was made surplus from the Department for Work and Pensions in 2004 after working for many years as an IT consultant and project manager, before those roles were outsourced. A colleague of mine applied for a job at the then Immigration Service at Heathrow. The day before applications closed he told me about the job and I applied at short notice. I got the job and he was turned down initially.
What’s a day in the life of you like?
The usual day is not usual. Most people think our day is all about looking at passports and questioning people. That’s like thinking working in a pub is all about pulling pints. There is so much more to it than that.
On arrival you check your emails to see if there are any updates to the rules you need to be aware of. Then it’s the briefing — how many people are arriving today, are there any alerts, is there a new trend on forgery/trafficking/illegal entrants we need to be aware of, who’s in charge for each area during your shift.
Given my background I also tend to be the go-to person on my shift when people are having IT problems. This adds another dimension to my day but is all part of the job, I suppose!
Favourite thing about your job?
Talking to people. Most passengers are polite and interesting to talk to. We seem to only remember the nasty ones, but when you really think about it there aren’t that many. Maybe that’s why you remember them so well.
Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport
Series 4: Wednesdays on ITV1
The documentary cameras return for a behind-the-scenes look at the people who keep Heathrow running. Meet air traffic controllers, sanitation engineers, Border Force officers and front-line Passenger Experience Managers – and share their daily challenges in this ‘city within a city’ where no two days are alike. Tune in on Wednesdays from 2nd May.