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Consular news – Embassy 4 – January 2008

E-borders – the new final frontier?

Twentieth century border control is not up to the task against international criminals and terrorists who use increasingly sophisticated methods to enter countries illegally, a top-level immigration officer told an audience of 50 consuls recently.

Speaking at a Consular Corps lunch, Shaun Anton, Chief Immigration Officer at the Heathrow Intelligence Unit, explained the role of the newly-created Border and Immigration Agency and how it keeps track of the 90 million passengers passing through the UK’s borders every year.

Border control starts “offshore” he said, explaining that around 75% of visa operations at British missions now have an intelligence unit to screen applicants, while biometric visas are now issued worldwide to prevent visa fraud.

The intelligence-led e-Borders programme, which is currently being rolled out, will also gather data on passengers’ movements, enhancing coordination between the BIA and various law enforcement and intelligence agencies to stop those on watchlists from entering the country.

Anton and his team then use the information gathered to provide guidance to immigration inspectors at Heathrow on what to watch out for when speaking to arrivals at the airport.

For more information contact Shaun Anton on: John.Anton@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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