back to article UK border security ring-o-steel flagged 48,000 travellers

The £1.2bn e-Borders security system flagged more than 48,000 travellers for intrusive background checks last year, it has emerged. Those automatically matched against intelligence watch lists are subjected to scrutiny of their criminal and financial records, as well as checks of their known associates. The system currently …


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  1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    So that's...

    £600,000 per arrest?

    That's some ROI.

  2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Civil Service rules...

    "...A Home Office spokesman denied the claims today..."

    do not allow any comment of this kind to the press until they are out of 'purdah', which I understand is still in force.

    Such a comment is obviously intended to defend the operation of this unit. This would no doubt have been minister-directed policy under the last government, and the civil servant involved would have been correct to issue that statement then. But now there is a new minister - Theresa May, if memory serves. Either she has rapidly decided to defend the last incumbents work (unlikely), or the civil servant concerned is speaking out of turn...

    Civil Service geek icon. Should have a cup of tea....

  3. Andus McCoatover


    Back-door checks? Sounds nasty. (OK, I haven't got my glasses with me at the moment).

    Oh, and if I'm a registered child-molester, do I automatically get stuck on the football-hooligan-molester's reg.?

    In that case I'll join Millwall FC and announce that my job is a paediatric. Or something starting with the same syllable. Like "Tennent's Extra". (Millwall supporters don't know a syllable from Jack)

    Free paint job on the council house, I guess...

  4. heyrick Silver badge

    Recording what you EAT?

    WTF are they looking for? "No pork thanks"? I wonder if this data harvesting complies with the DPA regs. Oh, wait, it's the government, they can just "ignore" this, collect whatever they want, lose a few USB memory devices, and later claim "lessons will be learned". <sigh>

    And yes, Aristotle, £600000 is great value, isn't it?

    1. Andus McCoatover

      No Pork, thanks?

      Soooo, Ubumma what'shis face is REALLY gonna encourage Israel. 'Course, in the new 'special relationship', everything's reciprocal. Ain't it?


      " Mummy, mummy, will we have an ash-cloud over the Middle East soon? How's my brother gonna get to his 'Terrorist-102' course?"

    2. JohnG


      Choose Halal and it might pique their interest - and that of the American agencies that they share data with (by "share with", I mean "give to").

      The other "no pork" option is Kosher which might now warrant a check for a fake passport.

    3. Red Bren
      Big Brother

      They're on honeymoon!

      There are certain areas where new incumbents are careful of how they criticise predecessors' decisions. The Blair/Brown administration kept the SFO on a short leash when investigating the BAe scandal, even though the whole thing started under the Tories.

      Security and Border Control is another area where the new regime will tread carefully for fear of accusations of being "soft" on immigration/terrorism. Saving £600k and letting 1 extra illegal migrant in will not go down well with the Daily Mail, especially if there are hospital wards that could be closed first.

      It would be nice to think they might roll back some of this authoritarian nonsense.

    4. fatchap


      There is a specific exlusion to the DPA for criminal investigations so this complies with it no questions.

    5. Ben Boyle


      Purdah as lifted last Wednesday (12th May) - at least for some of us.

      1. Oz
        Black Helicopters

        Re: DPA

        There may a specific exclusion for criminal investigations, but these guys are investigated first, based on what they eat and who they know, then it's decided if there's anything to prosecute for.

    6. tony trolle

      @Recording what you EAT?

      just what I was thinking.

  5. Arkasha
    Big Brother

    Meal choices

    "...with information on passengers' travelling companions, their meal choices and how they paid for their ticket."

    You have to watch those vegetarians you know. They're cunning little beggars!

  6. Is it me?

    @So that's

    Cheaper than a QC

    Oh, and Whitehall Civil Servants drink Late from their in-house Starbucks or Costa Coffee, do keep up.

  7. Craig 12

    all hail the algorithm


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      ...but most of them can't muster the energy to smile, let alone do anything dangerous.

      1. Richard Scratcher

        Oh yeah?

        Hitler was a veggie and probably had a low level of testosterone in his system too, but he was an aggressive and dangerous little bugger!

        1. tony trolle

          @Oh yeah?

          Hitler was no vegie quoting Robert Payne

          "Hitler's asceticism played an important part in the image he projected over Germany. According to the widely believed legend, he neither smoked nor drank, nor did he eat meat or have anything to do with women. Only the first was true. He drank beer and diluted wine frequently, had a special fondness for Bavarian sausages and kept a mistress, Eva Braun, who lived with him quietly in the Berghof. There had been other discreet affairs with women. His asceticism was fiction invented by Goebbels to emphasize his total dedication, his self-control, the distance that separated him from other men. By this outward show of asceticism, he could claim that he was dedicated to the service of his people."

          He also stopped eating meat before big meetings as meat dishes sometimes made him fart.

    2. Wommit
      Paris Hilton

      @Is it me?

      There are two 'T's in Latte.

      They arrive _late_ and drink their _latte_.

      Do keep up.

    3. John Sturdy

      The real target

      It's the Brazilian electricians they really have to watch out for... and French technical journalists, etc etc.

    4. Alan Firminger


      Some of us are big.

  8. Pat 11


    The previous administration seems to have been suffering from something analogous to obsessive compulsive disorder. OCD is characterized by repetitive behaviours aimed at averting an imagined catastrophe, eg checking the gas cooker is off. Issues of responsibility seem to be particularly pertinent.

    Similarly the Labour govt seemed prepared to go to any lengths to avoid a bad thing happening. For them, a bad thing meant "a thing for which we will be criticised by the press". Spending 600k to prevent one of those was a good deal for them. Sadly though in their OCD-like efforts to avoid all possibility of badness, they created this nightmarish erosion of civil liberties which is going to be hard to undo.

    You can tell it came from a pathological state of mind because it is obvious to the rational observer that the surveillance society creates acute (false positives) and chronic (general loss of trust in society) problems which are worse than the very few bad things they were trying to prevent.

    Basically, they were sick, and they had to go. Hopefully one of the Millibands will realise this and learn to live with risk.

  9. Winkypop Silver badge

    The only pork(ing) going on here is... the UK tax payer...

  10. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    Two things

    First "the system is being used to track everyone." Now that's fixed, lets move on to the efficiency of such a thing.

    It seems that there are roughly 190 million international travelers who are traversing the latex gauntlet that is e-Borders. Now then, 48,682 are selected for closer examination by a low paid glove me tender tech. From the special few, our Mr. Rubber Finger picks out 2,000 to arrest; no let me guess, mostly unpaid traffic fines right? So the rate is about one in 95,000. I wonder how the rate compares to that in the general public. It would be nice to know the number of convictions from the arrests, alas...

  11. Bob H


    £600,000 per case, money well spent. Superb, great, fantastic,...

    I want my salary back please...

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And how many more people are they picking up now than when they simply used the system of...."That bloke looks a bit dodgey?"...Gone are the days of every man on a flight with longer than shoulder length hair being treated to a rubber glove up the Barrymoor Bypass.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Arrests != Convictions

    As is usual with government figures, arrests does not equate to convictions. There could be 2000 arrests but no convictions.

    Journalists should realise that now and be chasing up the actual figures rather than just regurgitating press releases.

  14. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    @"as well as checks of their known associates"

    Its very interesting they read anything into "known associates". That is blatant hearsay. Since when has hearsay been evidence of criminal behaviour, yet we have them using known associates as a way of implying people are criminals by association?!

    Even worse, combine this idea of "known associates" with our increasingly brave new world of total information and you get an utter nightmare. Not least because it seems our Police State is looking for just about every way it can to increasingly justify (and so get away with) ever more intrusive background probes on just about everyone. So then add in the principle of "Six degrees of separation" and you get a nightmare way for them to justify their intrusive actions on anyone, simply by implying just about everyone is associated with criminals in one form or another. That's the perfect excuse to be as intrusive as they like, into all our lives.

    Yet even worse all the time ever more data is building up on all of us, allowing them to find ever more associations via online communications, and that's before you add in the huge amounts of data they can get from friend lists on all the social networking sites. But then as our Police State also aims to spy on all our communications, then they will be able to build up ever more association lists from all that data as well.

    After all our Police State only need excuses to be as intrusive as they like. Then they can use that excuse to punish whoever they like. After all the intrusiveness can easily be used as part of the punishment. (As it is already with "domestic extremists"(tm) i.e. political protesters) ... (So better hope you never feel like being a government protester against the growing Police State, because at this rate most people will have trouble even getting to a protest without being stopped and held, at the rate our country is sliding into a Totalitarian state).

    So we already have 48000 people affected today, so how many will be affected by the year 2020?

    So yet another day and yet another step towards Totalitarianism. :(

  15. Doshu

    refund please!

    thank you.

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Plenty of cost, not much benefit.

    BTW wouldn't most of those soccer err supporters *already* be under surveillance due to their involvement in various previous fracas?

  17. Alan Firminger

    To be used at all borders ?

    What about the muddy fields ?

    "And if it is terrorists you are looking for sor, we have had plenty of them pass through"

  18. Rombizio

    Darwin award

    For all the people in the UK Government. Since Tony Blair's first day you guys are being ruled by the most mentally handicapped and incompetent people ever. I've never seen such a bad sequence of decisions regarding any subject. Even the champion of stupidity (George W. Bush) seems like a reasonable person when you compare him (or it) to the people in recent history of UK's government.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Since Tony Blair...

      Oh no, it goes back way further than that. Macmillan? Suez?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        Actually it would be the aftermath of Suez which set the long term relationships between the US, Israel, UK and France. In the UK;s case it was basically "Stay on the right side of US *whatever* their policy position is (IE no matter how butt head stupid it is)"

        Combine that with W as the man nominally in charge and the rest follows.

  19. Robert E A Harvey


    Stanstead has a proud banner saying that they processed 5.8 million people and identified 120 "threats" to the UK.

    I'd issue threats if I was at the back of a queue of 5.8 million people.

    Mines the one with "All coppers are ..." in lead foil letters inside the lining

  20. Anonymous Coward

    inconsistent action

    We can, of course, get no real figures as to the efficiency of these measures, since we need both the misses and false alarm data. Nevertheless, the amount of money spent seems to be quite large per apparently successful detection of problem people, though one needs a cost-benefit analysis of how much harm these people were planning on doing to get even a biased idea of how much "value for money" it is. That we see so much lack of critical thinking behind the introduction of such costly policies nowadays is no longer surprising, but it merely strengthens the despair we may feel. If they really wanted to do something to improve consistency, I would have thought that the list of exclusions of what one may take past the security checks (liquids and so on), could be harmonized with the ease with which one can buy perfume and so on that one can buy after one has gone through the checks. Surely anyone with any sense and a intent towards terrorism would be able to fashion something destructive from what can be bought subsequent to these security checks? Why is this not being looked at as being equally problematic at the moment, rather than the oppressive collection of all kinds of data on individuals at great cost for benefits that at the moment cannot be assessed in any statistically unbiased manner? I guess the potential big business of duty-free shopping in one thing that outweighs the "stopping any terrorist action makes this worthwhile" mantra that I suspect is in the arsenal of official responses to be used here.

  21. exexpat

    Your information is safe in the hands of 7 corporations

    ..... and no wonder it costs so much with all of it outsourced....


  22. fred #257
    Big Brother

    Government security operating procedures explained:

    Are there any queers in the audience tonight?

    Get 'em up against the wall!

    That one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me

    Get him up against the wall!

    That one looks Jewish... and that one's a coon!

    Who let all this riff raff into the room?

    There's one smoking a joint

    And that one's got spots!

    If I had my way, I'd have all of you shot!

    (Acknowledgements to Pink Floyd)

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