The government has introduced exit checks on UK borders in order to paint a clearer picture of who is leaving the country and who is remaining in the country when they shouldn’t be.
Data on all passengers leaving the country via air, sea or train will be recorded and it is also hoped this will help security services track known criminals and terrorists.
The Home Office has been working alongside ports and carriers who have been collecting exit check data from customers since 2013.
These partnerships have enabled Whitehall to designed a system that takes into account the needs of business and challenges facing each route when faced with bringing in the new check with minimal disruption to customers.
The system was launched yesterday, 8th April, in order to avoid staff having to come to grips with the new system on the busy Easter weekend.
“Exit checks will provide us with vital information that confirms a person’s exit from the UK,” claimed Minister for Security and Immigration James Brokenshire.
“The coalition government committed to reintroducing them in 2010 and the Immigration Act 2014 put in place legislation which gave carrier and port staff the powers to carry out these checks.
“Port and travel operators are experts in their business and know their customers best, which is why we’ve supported them to design and trial the systems for collecting data in a way that minimise the impact on customers.
“The UK already has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world for recording who travels across our borders: delivering on our commitment to reintroduce exit checks will make us more secure and better informed than ever,” Brokenshire added.
However, the BBC reports that during the first month, all passports will be scanned but just 25% of passport holders will have their details verified to ensure they’re genuine.
This small percentage is intended to minimise disruption and towards the end of the month there will be a move to 50% verifications and then 100% verification by the middle of June.
Eurotunnel, the firm responsible for managing the Channel Tunnel, told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that passengers need not expect longer queues as a result of these new measures, but has called for the introduction of new technology to improve the process.
The company has already spent £2.5m on refurbishing its terminal and has recruited 50 new staff.
The Home Office and UK Border Force have an unfortunate history when it comes to border-related technology projects.
Last year, the Department was forced to end the e-Borders programme which electronically collected details from passenger lists of all people entering and leaving the UK.
Shortly after the cancellation of this project, a highly publicised IT fault caused large disruptions for travellers by air and sea.