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e-Borders to cost £1.2bn

The price of tougher checks

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The Home Office has estimated its electronics borders programme will cost £1.2bn.

The assessment follows trials of the system, which has already screened 29 million passengers before they travel to the UK.

The e-Borders programme is a joint project led by the Border and Immigration Agency, in partnership with the police, HM Revenue and Customs, and UKVisas. It requires commercial carriers and owners or operators of all vessels to submit detailed passenger, service, and crew data prior to their departure to and from the UK.

This data is then checked in real time against watch lists, assessed for risk, and shared between the agencies. The first stage of the project has assessed 29 million travellers, resulting in more than 13,000 alerts to agencies and more than 1,050 arrests for crimes.

The system will cover the majority of passenger movements in and out of the UK by 2009, and from next year foreign nationals residing in the UK will be issued with a biometric ID card. Biometric visas are now issued in over 80 countries.

Details of the trial follow the announcement at the end of July that Britain will have a unified border control at the point of entry.

"We're creating an overseas border control with tougher checks before travellers board a train, plane or boat for Britain," said immigration minister Liam Byrne. All our tests show it works and there's more than 1,000 arrests to prove it. Now we need to go further with full scale screening of travellers.

"The e-Borders programme will provide a critical aid to security and counter terrorist work. By locking passengers to their identity we will create a new offshore line of defence, helping genuine travellers but stopping those who pose a risk before they travel."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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