Feeds

UK tightens borders with single agency and screening system

But union concerned at 'flawed' pilots

High performance access to file storage

A single agency and a multi-billion pound passenger screening system will strengthen the UK's entry points, according to the Home Office.

The Home Office has announced that a new UK Border Agency will unite immigration, customs and visa checks, backed by a £1.2bn passenger screening programme.

The screening system programme includes a £650m contract with consortia Trusted Borders for a passenger screening IT system, which will work alongside the rollout of fingerprint visas.

Raytheon Systems, the prime contractor for Trusted Borders, will work with Accenture, Detica, Serco, QinetiQ, Steria, Capgemini, and Daon.

The electronic security system will screen all passengers before they travel to the UK against immigration, customs, and police watch lists. International air, rail, and sea ports will be covered, with all high risk routes into the UK covered by mid-2009.

According to the Home Office, trials of the new system led to more than 1,000 criminals being caught and more than 15,000 "people of concern" being checked out by immigration, customs, or the police.

The changes have been welcomed by John Donlon, the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on ports policing, and assistant chief constable of Thames Valley Police.

"The [e-borders] contract award follows a highly successful trial, code-named Operation Semaphore, which saw police forces across the UK make 1,300 arrests," he said.

"The high number of arrests linked to Semaphore alerts demonstrates a visible measure of success. In addition, significant contributions have been made in support of investigations and the protection of the vulnerable."

Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, described the changes as the most sweeping to UK border security for decades. "All travellers to Britain will be screened against no fly lists and intercept target lists and, together with biometric visas, this will help keep trouble away from our shores."

"As well as the tougher double check at the border, ID cards for foreign nationals will soon give us a triple check in country. Together this adds up to some of the most advanced security anywhere on the globe."

The civil service PCS union expressed serious concerns about the announcement, however. It warned that the transfer of staff from Revenue and Customs, UK Visas and the Border and Immigration Agency into the new agency was flawed and based on a poor and rushed evaluation of the pilot schemes.

Staff with less than three hours' training are being asked to perform key roles, such as passenger profiling, the union said. At Purfleet in the Thames Gateway, customs staff who have been ordered to carry out vehicle searches previously conducted by immigration officers, have reported checks are down by 50 per cent because of insufficient training.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: "We are yet to be convinced that these proposals, based on flawed pilot schemes, will achieve the government's aims of strengthening the UK's borders."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.