News story

E-borders snares 2,800 criminals at the border

Suspects linked to hundreds of crimes have been captured after the UK Border Agency’s e-Borders monitoring system successfully targeted wanted criminals trying to cross the UK border.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

In 2010/11 e-Borders alerts led to 2,800 arrests after the details of 126 million passengers were checked against ‘watchlists’ of suspects wanted by the UK Border Agency, police, SOCA and HM Revenue & Customs.

Currently the e-Borders system checks 90 per cent of flights from outside the EU and up to 60 per cent of those from within the EU to combat terrorist threats, spot organised criminals, stop immigration abuse and catch fugitives from justice.

In the last year the e-Borders system flagged suspects wanted in connection with a number of serious crimes and resulted in the arrest of people wanted in connection with18 murders, 27 rapes, 29 sex offences, and 25 violent crimes.

And since 2005 it has also helped seize half a tonne of drugs, five tonnes of loose tobacco and nearly seven million cigarettes.

Visiting the National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) in Manchester Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Checking people coming to the UK is vital in helping secure the border by targeting known criminals, terror suspects and illegal migrants while gathering evidence against smugglers and people traffickers.

‘Traveller information has enabled the e-Borders to help keep our country safe with more than 8,400 criminals, including rapists and murderers, intercepted since it was established.

‘When the new National Crime Agency goes live from 2013 the Manchester based NBTC will be central to helping the UK Border Agency play its part. The city can be justly proud of its role at the forefront of the hi-tech fight to make the country’s border even more secure.’

The hi-tech system is operated by the Manchester based NBTC which electronically sifts information on passengers and crew before they even set foot on a plane. Operators in the control room check personal details against ‘watch lists’ and provide details to UK Border Agency officers about individuals wanted by law enforcement agencies.

The role of the e-Borders system continues to grow as the details of more individuals travelling to and from the UK are checked against lists of people wanted by the police or thought to pose a threat. And when the new National Crime Agency goes live from 2013 Manchester will be central to the new Border Police Command’s role of providing a single assessment of border related risks.

Details given when flights are booked help the NBTC stop threats to our country and keep it safe.

Notes to editors

  1. e-Borders was launched by the UK Border Agency in May 2009, following the successful trial of Project Semaphore which operated from 2005.

  2. e-Borders requires carriers and owner/operators of all vessels due to arrive in or depart from the UK to electronically submit detailed passenger and crew data to the e-Borders system prior to travel.

  3. Carriers on high risk routes can be required to provide reservation data, known as Other Passenger Information (OPI), to the e-Borders system, but only if it has been collected in the normal course of their business.

  4. The carrier collects the data held within a passport or other travel document.  This is sent to the operations centre of the e-Borders system where it is run against a number of watchlists.

  5. Rahan Arshad, who was convicted in March 2007 of killing his wife and two children at their Manchester family home, was caught with assistance from the UK Border Agency’s e-Borders system. Following the murder in August 2006 Arshad fled the scene before police could make an arrest. The e-Borders system was able to track his movements and revealed he had tried to evade capture by fleeing the country on a flight to Thailand. Having mapped his departure to Heathrow Airport police were able to locate his car in the car park and liaise with the Thai authorities over his return to the UK.

  6. For all the latest Home Office news, photos and video visit the media centre. You can also follow the Home Office on Twitter.

For further enquiries contact: Hazel Gidley on 020 7035 3851 or Mike Burrell on 020 7035 3819 at the UK Border Agency.

Published 7 April 2011