UK opens high-tech hub to screen air passengers
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 18:14
London: A new hi-tech 'border targeting centre' that will electronically check passenger data before passengers arrive at British airports from India and elsewhere has been opened in Manchester.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson last week unveiled the National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) which will replace the smaller joint border operations units at Heathrow as the operational hub.

Termed as Britain's 'latest weapon in the fight against terrorists, known criminals and would-be illegal migrants' the centre is a hi-tech hub where watch-list checks on passengers entering and leaving Britain will be carried out.

Immigration officers will work with the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the police to share intelligence and issue alerts where a suspect is identified by the electronic border checks.

It is expected that the new centre will enable the UK Border Agency to meet its target of screening 100 per cent of passenger movements in and out of the UK by air, sea or rail by 2014.

Johnson said: "Thanks to our hi-tech e-Borders system the UK now has one of the strongest borders in the world. It means we can count people in and out of the UK and capture known criminals, terror suspects and illegal migrants while gathering evidence against smugglers and people traffickers."

"Already e-Borders has had a huge impact, helping us catch more than 5,400 criminals including rapists and murderers. This new centre will up the ante, increasing the amount of data we can screen, so we can track all passenger movements in and out of the UK by 2014," Johnson added.

More than 100 million passenger movements in and out of the UK were checked against UK Border Agency and police watch-lists last year.

The checks alerted the police about wanted UK and foreign nationals flying into British airports, allowing arrests to be made as soon as the individual landed or for them to be returned on the next flight.

The national border targeting centre receives information on passengers and crew and, over time, will check an estimated 250 million passenger movements per year.

It will also process visa application data for overseas posts by checking the applicant and sponsor details against watch-lists.


First Published: Wednesday, March 17, 2010, 18:14

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