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Old 3rd December 2015, 08:38   #1 (permalink)
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Home Office Failed Border Scheme

The Home Office has been criticised for failing to complete a project to boost UK border security - despite spending at least 830 million on it.

The e-borders scheme was meant to collect and analyse data on everyone travelling to and from the UK before they arrive at ports and airports.

But the National Audit Office says checks remain "highly manual and inefficient", and IT systems outdated.

The Home Office says all UK arrivals are checked against watch lists.

The e-borders scheme has been dogged by problems since its launch in 2003, and in 2014, the head of the UK Border Force, Sir Charles Montgomery, told MPs it had been "terminated" in its current form.

By collecting advanced passenger information (API), such as passport numbers and nationalities, it was meant to allow officials to "export the border" by preventing people from embarking on journeys to the UK where they were considered a threat.

Eight years late

Among the report's key findings:

830m was spent on the project between April 2006 and March 2015, with another 275m likely to be needed by March 2019

Among those costs was 150m on an out-of-court settlement paid after the original e-borders contract was cancelled

The project is not set to be finished until 2019 - eight years late

API was only collected from 86% of arrivals in September this year, despite the target being 100%

Moreover, API still is not available for most rail and ferry journeys

Only 20% of booking data - more comprehensive than API - is being collected. Again, the target is 100%.

The NAO said a database known as the Warning Index - designed to flag up known criminals or terrorists - was still being used eight years after it should have been retired.

While it has been upgraded, it is "still far from good" and suffers an average of two "high priority incidents a week".

These breakdowns include situations where part of the system is not available or performing too slowly to function, or where it is inaccessible at 30% or more control points at a port or airport.

The Home Office insisted contingency arrangements were in place for when those incidents occurred.

Home Office criticised over 830m 'failed' borders scheme - BBC News
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