Border control takes thousands of fingerprints

The government collects 100,000 fingerprints a month overseas from people wanting to come to the UK.

The Home Office collects over 100,000 fingerprints a month overseas from foreigners applying to come to the UK, it announced.

Anyone applying to come to the UK to work, study or just to travel from 100 countries must provide fingerprints as part of the government's biometric border programme. The fingerprints are compared against existing records from police and immigration agencies to find people faking their identities or charged with crimes. Some 8,000 prints have been matched so far.

"Biometric checks are essential to protect our borders. They allow us to screen each visa applicant before they are given the right to enter the UK, meaning tighter border controls and increased security," said immigration minister Liam Byrne in a statement. "But it's not just abroad that these fingerprint records are used. Once these individuals are in the UK the Immigration Services use the same database for enforcement activity, such as illegal working operations."

Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister Dr Kim Howells added: "Recording biometric information allows us to fix an individual's identity at the earliest point practicable and track their future dealings with the UK."

The biometric data collection technology is expected to be rolled out completed by April 2008, when fingerprints and a digital photograph will be collected from applicants from 135 countries covering three-quarters of the world's population.

As IT PRO reported earlier this year, the 1.2 billion e-borders project gathers two prints a minute, and the government contemplated using the database to reclaim unpaid fines and fees.

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