The government has said its e-Borders programme will be able to pre-check every non-European Economic Area (EEA) airline visitor to the UK from next month.
Immigration minister Damian Green made the pledge as he explained in a speech how the new Border Force will operate following its separation from the UK Border Agency. The Force was separated from the Agency after it was claimed staff were not sticking to agreed immigration controls in place.
E-borders would be "genuinely secure, fluid and complete", he said. Border security "is about making sure that we are in the right place, at the right time, with the right information to stop the source of the threat before it even reaches our shores", he said, according to a BBC report.
The delayed e-borders programme was introduced by the previous Labour government. The UK Border Agency experienced a number of IT headaches related to the original £1.2 billion e-borders programme. Last summer, the Agency was said to be locked into a binding arbitration process with supplier Raytheon after the company was sacked from the programme in July 2010. Up until being removed from the e-borders contract Raytheon had been paid £188 million out of its £742 million contract.
Green, speaking yesterday at the Royal United Services Institute, said there will be clear rules on the correct level of checks for every type of passenger and all types of goods that cross the UK border.
In addition, he said, the e-Borders system will be rolled out further to cover 100 percent of non-EEA flights by next month. The programme collects and analyses information on passengers and crew intending to travel to or from the UK before they travel.
Green said: "There can be no compromises on border security. In a dangerous world, our border is one of our main protections."
In 2011, 2.6 million UK visa applications were made and there were around 200 million passenger journeys across UK borders. In addition, 500 million tonnes of freight passed through seaports.
Green said: "E-borders combined with our strict visa regime means that all non-EEA visitors arriving from outside Europe will have been checked once, and many twice, while they are still thousands of miles from our passport controls. That means better protection than ever before and a stronger border."