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Home Office plans two new IT systems for e-passport gates

13/01/22

Mark Say Managing Editor

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ePassport gates

Two new IT systems are being developed to support the operation of e-passport gates at UK borders, according to a newly published document from the Home Office.

It has made the indications in its formal response to the report on the gates compiled by the chief inspector of borders and immigration, which was submitted in June of last year but has only now been published.

The plans for IT systems come in response to the two of the report’s recommendations, which derive from concerns about the recording of complaints at the gates and safeguarding issues.

One deals with the need to implement standardised methods for recoding complaints, ensuring that trends can be identified, categorised and analysed.

The Home Office response says it is developing a replacement for the current complaints management system and that it should be implemented over the course of this year.

“The new system will allow for improved methods of recording complaints and better analysis of trends,” it says. “In the meantime, Border Force is developing existing management information to make best use of available data and customer feedback.”

Vulnerability issue

The second initiative comes in response to concerns that vulnerable people are not always being properly identified. The inspector’s report makes the point that Border Force data does not differentiate between vulnerable people identified at the gates or at the primary control point – with the exception of potential victims of modern slavery – and that the EU has lost access to EU criminality data systems.

The Home Office is responding with the development of a new IT system, scheduled for implementation this year, to capture a range of information from Border Force frontline staff. As part of this wider work, safeguarding recording requirements and technical solutions are currently being scoped.

In a statement accompanying the publication, David Neal, chief inspector of borders and immigration, also highlighted concerns about outages in the system over recent months and said he hopes the root causes have been resolved.

Other recommendations in the report revolve around procedures and staff training.

Neal also commented that the Covid-19 pandemic has required the Border Force to manage health measures at the border.

“I am pleased to note that changes to border systems to automate some health measure border checks at the e-passport gates have been implemented since this inspection was completed,” he said.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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