20 August 2008

Britain's new hi-tech border control checks now in use

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The Home Office announced yesterday it will be stepping up security measures against high risk countries, starting with the unveiling of a new hi-technology electronic security system in the Manchester airport.

By 2010, the Home Office aims to have tracked over 99 per cent of foreign nationals on UK visas who travel in and out of Britain using the new e-Borders system.  By 2014, every passenger, including UK and EEA nationals, that passes through Britain’s border security will be checked using this system.

The e-Borders system has already been operating around Britain and has screened 50 million passengers, 2,000 of which were consequently arrested for criminal offences. 

The upgraded e-Borders system in Manchester will use face recognition technology to scan passengers as they pass through border security.  The faces of UK and EEA nationals will be assessed against their biometric passports, and will check them against watch-lists.  The upgrading is hoped to not only improve border security, but also increase processing time.

"These checks make up just one part of Britain's triple ring of security, alongside fingerprint visas for three-quarters of the world's population, and the roll-out of ID cards for foreign nationals locking people to one identity," said Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

The new strategy will also include “no-fly” lists that will prevent certain passengers from entering the country. 

The introduction of the e-Borders system at Manchester will create 250 jobs for north-west England, and will need 25,000 staff working around the world at UK Border Agencies. 

"Our strong new force - made up of 9,000 staff working alongside 3,000 police officers at our border - has already had large scale success with millions of pounds worth of illegal drugs seized, hundreds of weapons confiscated and tens of thousands of people barred from the UK."

The UK Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in UK visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, UK Visa Bureau.

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