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Government joins European fingerprint database

Home Office in on collecting asylum seeker smudges

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The Home Office has opted in to the Eurodac fingerprint database, which collects the fingerprints of asylum seekers and some illegal entrants to the European Union.

Immigration minister Damien Green said in a parliamentary written statement, published on 11 January, that the move will help member states determine who is responsible under the Dublin Regulation for dealing with an asylum claim.

The regulation's main objective is to identify as quickly as possible the member state responsible for examining an asylum application to prevent abuse of asylum procedures through multiple applications.

"The government are committed to the Dublin system, of which Eurodac is an essential part, as it helps tackle the problem of people abusing asylum systems across Europe by making multiple claims in different EU member states," he said.

"The government will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of justice and home affairs on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country's security, protecting Britain's civil liberties and enhancing our ability to control immigration."

Eurodac consists of a Central Unit within the European Commission, equipped with a computerised central database for comparing fingerprints, and a system for electronic data transmission between EU countries and the database.

As well as fingerprints, the data sent by EU countries also includes: the EU country of origin; the sex of the person; the place and date of the asylum application or the apprehension of the person; the reference number; the date on which the fingerprints were taken; and the date that the data were transmitted to the unit.

Information is collected on those over 14 years of age and is sent via national access points. The data of asylum applicants is kept of 10 years unless the individual obtains the citizenship of one of the EU countries, in which case their data is immediately erased.

This article was originally published at Kable.

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