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back to article UK Home Sec: 'I authorised biometric bypass pilot'

Home Secretary Theresa May fought for her political life in Parliament on Monday after it was revealed that immigration border guards were told to ignore biometric chips on the passports of non-eurozone citizens. The head of the UK border force, Brodie Clark, "authorised the wider relaxation of border controls without …

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WTF?

Is this a big deal?

Surely all they did was stop checking the new biometric chips?

Seeing as the vast majority of passports don't actually have biometric chips, I can't see what the problem is. If they stopped checking against the database, all that means is that the funky new biometric database wasn't working as planned (no surprise there).

Did I miss something?

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Pint

Things have moved on quite a bit

" Seeing as the vast majority of passports don't actually have biometric chips, I can't see what the problem is. "

According to the latest figures I have seen, a little over half of all current valid UK passports in circulation are indeed of the new chipped biometric type. The Passport office issue upwards of 5 million new passports a year, all of these of course are of the new biometric type. By 2016 all valid UK passports will incorporate this new technology. The equivelant figures for non UK passports may be lower, but the number of chip enabled passports in circulation around the world is increasing every day as most countries around the world now issue them as standard.

Figures aside though, the whole point of chipping passports was to make them much more difficult to forge. If immigration agencies routinely disregard this feature and just check the picture inside the cover, there seems little point in going to the bother and expense in producing tem in the first place.

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FAIL

Does this match the known facts?

It's not clear from this article that May claims she issued instructions that checks were to be reduced *only* for EU nationals, and had specifically stated that they should not be reduced for other groups. She also said that the reason for doing this was to ensure that arrivals from more high risk areas were given more rigorous checks.

Now, I'm not saying that what she said will turn out to be the truth, but I do think the article could have been a little more balanced...

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Now I'm...

... getting confused. Which, sadly, is far from uncommon. And I'm not even a resident of the Hundred Farthing Wood.

From the articil... artakul... hardtokill... er, the word thingie:

"The head of the UK border force, Brodie Clark, "authorised the wider relaxation of border controls without ministerial sanction", said May speaking in the House of Commons ahead of reading out an emergency statement about the matter."

And:

"May, flanked by Cameron, said in her statement to MPs that she agreed to a limited pilot in July this year."

So are we (or rather, not we, 'cos I for sure know it wasn't me) saying:

1:

It was all that nasty Brodie Clark being a Bad Person(tm).

2:

Theresa May did say some little stuff could be done, but the Bad Stuff(tm) was all that nasty Brodie Clark being a Bad Person(tm).

3:

Theresa May said Brodie Clark could do stuff, but when the other stuff hits the rotating thing, there has to be a Bad Person, and it ain't gonna be Theresa May?

I know. It's probably me. Does the Hundred Farthing Wood issue passports and citizenship?

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Anonymous Coward

Where do I get me a non-Euro passport then?

We're supposed to trust the bods from the continent more than the bods from elsewhere. Why the change of heart? Is it because of the garlic?

Then again, it doesn't surprise me, since biometrics are fail on a stick. The quality is poor, they don't do what they're touted to do and they cause an awful lot of trouble of the Kafkaesque variety. And paradoxically, throwing more technology at it will cause more trouble, creating a wonderful opportunity to shrug, blame the victim, and hug your fancy apparatuses some more.

Oh, and if dropping 22% of the border guard workforce "doesn't affect the frontline", doesn't that mean that much was already superfluous? Why haven't they been cut sooner? Not that I want to push people into unemployment, mind, but do consider that working for the government means you're overhead and aren't earning additional taxable income (since your income is entirely paid from taxes already). That and the fact that security itself, while some of it is indubitably necessary, would be overhead and not creating wealth, even if it was done by private company. On top of that most "security" is more huggy-feely horror theatre than that it actually reduces anyone's already quite low chances of becoming a victim of terrorism. It just doesn't stand up to rational reasoning or accounting. I digress.

But I really do want to know that if this is acceptable, why must fellows from the EU submit to more rigorous checks? Ms May, pray do tell. This random member of the public demands to know.

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Silver badge

Trust EU bods?

That's sort of what the member state agreement is supposed to be about. In my (admittedly limited) travels, my passport was only ever checked in *one* place . . . British immigration.

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FAIL

I am also confused.

"May said an independent inquiry would determine why controls were relaxed"

But then at the end of the article, it says:

"Immigration minister Damian Green said that 5,200 UK Border Agency staff would be cut, with the total number of guards reduced to 18,000 by 2015...."

Is this the result of the inquiry already (much quicker than normal!). The problem was caused by not having enough people to check and guard the border, and hence it wasn't?

Or are they saying that they have to stop checking people at times of high demand because they can't cope, oh and by the way, we are reducing the number of people.

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FAIL

Increased terroism ?

Apart from the political difficulties for Ms. May, this has been a very worrying time for us citizens of the UK. After all, look at the huge increase in terrorist incidents in the last six months.

Perhaps the threat is just a little over-rated ?

Chris Cosgrove

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FAIL

With 19,000 kilometres of coastline how in hell do they think they can win?

"It's important to have intelligent border controls using technology, putting the right people in the right places, so we can keep our border secure."

Well, Cameron, you simply don;t have enough people to manage it. That's why smuggling was so successful in previous centuries.

Boaters are supposed to declare their intention of landing whilst way out at sea, which is useless if there is no one to meet them. And there is only ONE patrol ship - which spends a lot of time tied up at dockside to save fuel.

So much for Britannia ruling the waves!

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Anonymous Coward

"I didn't do it."

So the Home Secretary said border officials were given "discretion" about when to "open the biometric chip". She also said: "I did not give my authorisation or consent".

Will the real Theresa May please stand up?

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This was only done in respect of EU travellers not non EU travellers, though how they can tell the difference without first checking a passport defeats me.

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I think they were still checking the passports. Just not checking the biometric chip.

With all the hysterical reporting of "[terrorists|criminals|paedophiles|sex traffickers|bloody foreigners]* flood unchecked into Britain!!", it's hard to tell, really.

* Select according to personal paranoia preference.

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Yeah that too, all of it! What made me laugh most of all was the self righteous behaviour of the opposition, who allowed millions in, and furthermore allowed silly legislation to get in the way of our human rights, namely allowing the hook and other mad twats to preach murder and mayhem

If there is such a thing as the devil I conjure him up now; get the to HQ Labour Shaitan, and deal with them.

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