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Controversial new measures at border control have now begun in the UK in a bid to tackle illegal immigration. The new border ‘exit check’ scheme introduced in the Immigration Act 2014, in partnership with the Home Office, will gather data on all passengers leaving the UK at ports and border crossings for air, rail and sea travel. Whilst the API system, which has been in place since 2004, provides the government with information from air travel passengers, there has previously been no measures in place for other forms of transportation out of the UK.
The government says that the new measures have been put in place to gauge whether or not those living in the UK on visas are leaving when they are supposed to under the terms of their visa. The new data will provide accurate and up to date information about those who have overstayed their visas – giving vital immigration intelligence that the government has previously not had access to.
In the initial phase, which was introduced this morning, all passport holders will have their passports scanned as usual, 25% of people will then have their identification details verified by further measures to determine whether or not the details are genuine. After a month of the scheme being rolled out at 25%, verification will then be increased to include 50% of those leaving the UK. 100% verification is scheduled to be introduced by the end of June.
Channel Tunnel operators, Eurotunnel, have stated that they will be moving to 100% verification immediately without the need for a staged rollout. In recent years, a spotlight has been cast on the Channel Tunnel as a supposed ‘easy’ target for people entering the UK illegally. Illegal immigrants have been reported to make their way through other European countries in a bid to enter the UK at some of its main border points such as Calais.
After the scheme was introduced this morning in the first stages of a gradual rollout, it was reported that no disturbance to travel had been caused, including no delays – a suspected byproduct of the checks by critics in the lead up to the scheme’s introduction.