UK tightens borders with single agency and screening system
But union concerned at 'flawed' pilots
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.
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Assuming that as the information in this perfect, absolutely secure, highly reliable database increases there is the possibility, albeit tiny as it is a Governmen IT project, that the odd error may creep in. How is Joe Ordinary going to deal with being refused boarding, in error, for his well deserved and hard earned holiday ? Who is going to be liable for exra costs / damages etc ?? Just a thought
Just two points
1. On past experience UK government computer systems usually perform in an inverse ratio to the cost, bigger the cost = more time to build and lower functionality i.e. NHS computer system.
This one will cost £1.2b so they would be better off with an abacus.
2. Will this stop the illegals coming in through the tunnel? I don't think so, we need them to clean our streets and make the country a safer place by clogging up our prisons because god forbid, we couldn't send them home when they commit violent crimes it's against their 'uman rights!
Did you see 28 weeks later?
"They are not killing for any causes other than ridding the world of anybody who do not share their extreme beliefs."
Exactly! At last someone tells it like it is! Did you see '28 weeks later'? Where the zombies just want to eat non zombies? It's exactly the same.
All muslims want to eat our brains!
They surf the web, read a Jihadist website, catch the virus, then it's durka durka durka, brains, need to eat brains durka durka durka! Soon they're travelling down from far flung Leeds by train to eat London brains.
It's a sickness, they don't have legitimate gripes and we should never ever read their comments or listen to their point of view or we might catch this virus too!
See what happened when the infected virus carrier was taken from the UK to France in the final scene? Zombies, erm I mean muslims, captured the whole of the continent!
Lets close our eyes, keep repeating, 'they hate our freedom' and never ever listen to their virus laden words lest we become durka durka zombies too!