A convicted foreign drug smuggler was stopped trying to enter the country after the UK Border Agency’s hi-tech e-borders monitoring system flagged his impending arrival on a Gatwick bound flight.
The UK Border Agency refused entry to the 40-year-old Lithuanian national on arrival from Vilnius because he was deported in April 2002 having been convicted in 1998 of attempting to smuggle cocaine into the UK.
The e-Borders system, which electronically checks passenger data before they set foot on a plane, matched the passenger against watchlists which revealed his earlier conviction and deportation. The e-Borders centre control room provided details of the passenger to UK Border Agency officers at Gatwick’s south terminal to enable them to intercept the passenger on Saturday afternoon (6 March).
Nick Crouch, UK Border Agency Assistant Director at Gatwick Airport, said:
“The fact that UK Border Agency officers were able to identify and target a convicted drug smuggler before he landed at Gatwick airport clearly demonstrates the value of e-borders.
“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.
“e-Borders has already had a huge impact, helping us catch more than 5,400 criminals including rapists and murderers.”
The National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) receives information on passengers and crew and, over time, will check an estimated 250 million passenger movements per year. The centre was formally opened today (11 March) by the Home Secretary. The NBTC will also process visa application data for overseas posts by checking the applicant and sponsor details against watch-lists.
These watch-list checks are just one part of the triple ring of security that protects Britain, alongside fingerprint checks when people apply for visas and ID cards locking foreign nationals to one identity.
The UK Border Agency was launched on 3 April 2008, bringing in a single force to protect our borders, control migration for the benefit of the country, prevent border tax fraud, smuggling and immigration crime and make quick and fair decisions on asylum claims.
E-Borders was launched by the UK Border Agency in May 2009, following the successful trial of Project Semaphore.
Since the e-Borders programme was launched in May 2009 it has had considerable success – leading to the identification of people smugglers, the confiscation of fraudulently used British passports and the seizure of millions of pounds worth of drugs and tobacco. Since May there have been over 70,000 alerts.
e-Borders requires carriers and owner/operators of all vessels (air, sea and rail) due to arrive in or depart from the UK to electronically submit detailed passenger and crew data to the e-Borders system prior to travel.
Carriers on high risk routes can be required to provide reservation data, known as Other Passenger Information (OPI), to the e-Borders system, but only if it has been collected in the normal course of their business.
The carrier collects the data held within a passport or other travel document. This is sent to the operations centre of the e-Borders system where it is run against a number of watchlists.
e-Borders is just one of the steps the UK Border Agency has introduced to target criminals. Others include:
* a freight targeting system that provides real-time risk assessment and powerful new scanners to detect smuggled goods at port;
* providing detection technology and training to other countries, including to the special fraud unit of Nigeria’s Police Force – assisting it in tracking down the manufacturers and suppliers of fraudulent documents;
* UKBA officers stationed around the world stopping 42,000 inadequately documented passengers from boarding flights bound for the UK last year;
* between April and September 2009 teams identifying 350 potential victims of trafficking including 104 children; and
* seizing £343 million worth of illicit drugs, 5,800 dangerous weapons and 3,165,849 items of counterfeit and pirated goods between April 2008 and March 2009.