System is "out of date"
A system intended to alert British border guards to known terrorists and criminals is out of date and breaks down on average twice a week, Britain’s National Audit Office has said.
The government spending watchdog said in a report that the Warning Index system was developed 20 years ago and was only expected to last for seven years but will now not be retired from use until 2018.
The report said the system suffers an average of two “high priority incidents a week”, it said, adding that the failure to develop a new system has made border operations “highly manual and inefficient”.
The auditors said at least £830 million (1.2 billion euros, $1.2 billion) had been spent on the e-Borders system intended to overhaul screening procedures.
The plan was introduced in 2003 with the aim of enhancing checks on people entering Britain by air, rail and sea by gathering and processing data on passengers before they reach the border.
The report estimated that the system would not be complete until 2019, by which time successive governments will have spent over £1.0 billion on it.
Keith Vaz, head of parliament’s home affairs committee, said the report was “devastating.
“A failure to properly cover millions of people entering the country without having passenger information in advance gives a green light to people who wish to come to the UK for illegal or dangerous activity,” he said.
Immigration minister James Brokenshire said protecting the borders is “our top priority” and systems are “working effectively to keep our citizens safe and our country secure”.
“Every passenger arriving in the UK is checked against a range of watch lists,” he said.