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e-Borders snares 2,800 possible crims, 5 tons of baccy

Also 7 million cigs, claims gov

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The UK Border Agency has claimed to have captured large number of crime suspects through the e-Borders monitoring system.

It has issued a statement saying that alerts from the system led to 2,800 arrests in 2010-11 after the details of 126 million passengers were checked against watchlists of suspects wanted by itself, police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs.

It said that 18 of the suspects were apprehended in connection with murders, 27 with rapes, 29 with sex offences and 25 with violent crimes. It also claimed to have helped seize half-a-tonne of drugs, five tonnes of loose tobacco and nearly 7 million cigarettes since 2005.

e-Borders, which monitors the movements of large numbers of people in and out of the UK, was launched by the Border Agency in May 2009. It has been criticised by privacy campaigners for being excessively intrusive, and its development was beset by problems.

Government plans to make the scheme compulsory for travellers between the UK and other EU member states were squashed by the European Commission, and in July 2010 the Home Office terminated the contract with Raytheon, which led the development of the programme, claiming the company had been in breach.

In February 2011, the Home Office acknowledged that it had failed to meet its target of tracking 95 per cent of all passenger journeys in and out of the UK by December 2010, with just 55 per cent of inbound and 60 per cent of outbound journeys currently tracked.

But the government has maintained its support for a programme that was initiated by the previous administration. Immigration minister Damian Green said: "Traveller information has enabled the e-Borders to help keep our country safe with more than 8,400 criminals, including rapists and murderers, intercepted since it was established.

"When the new National Crime Agency goes live from 2013 the Manchester based National Border Targeting Centre will be central to helping the UK Border Agency play its part."

This article was originally published at Guardian Government Computing.

Guardian Government Computing is a business division of Guardian Professional, and covers the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. For updates on public sector IT, join the Government Computing Network here.

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