Fingerprint technology strengthens security

The number of fingerprints being taken of foreign nationals coming to the UK for work, study or even just tourism, has reached 100,000 a month according to Government figures.

Oct 4, 2007
By David Howell

The number of fingerprints being taken of foreign nationals coming to the UK for work, study or even just tourism, has reached 100,000 a month according to Government figures.

The biometric programme has been running since last September with the Government pledging to take the fingerprint of every foreign national applying for a British visa by April 2008.

Fingerprints taken as part of the visa application process are checked against government records to see if the individual is already known to the Border and Immigration Agency. This has already seen over 8,000 sets of prints matched quickly and successfully to individuals of concern.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne said: “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.

“But it’s not just abroad that these fingerprint records are used. Once these individuals are in the UK, the Immigration Services uses the same database for enforcement activity, such as illegal working operations.”

He said the Border and Immigration Agency will continue to employ new technology such as this as it comes down ever harder on illegal immigrants.

Foreign and 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.”

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