£500m programme not helping to track immigration

Immigration, investment, border, security, check 05 June 2014
The UK e-Borders Programme took ten years and more than £500 million to develop. However, according to ministers, it has failed to replace existing immigration-tracking methods and cannot provide valid immigration and migration figures.
The Home Office’s e-Borders Programme, now known as the Border Systems Programme (BSP), is supposed to check everybody entering and leaving Britain. Despite the intentions behind the programme, ministers told the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC) that the data collected does not specify whether passengers are long-term migrants or just short-term visitors. This means the data cannot be used to give accurate net immigration and migration statistics.
This issue was raised in response to a PASC report that advised that net migration figures should not be based on the estimates provided by the International Passenger Survey, which involves interviews with more than 700,000 passengers. As a result, MPs on the PASC said that the Home Office should start using BSP data to measure immigration and migration.
However, BSP only records the following details of passengers: name, nationality, gender, date of birth and passport details. The questions do not request any information about passengers’ intended length of stay or purpose for entering the country, due to European Union legislation on the free movement of European Economic Association nationals.
Ministers commented that, despite its shortcomings in estimating net migration and immigration, BSP data could be used as an additional source of information. However, there are concerns that adequate immigration policies cannot be developed when the statistics available are so unreliable.
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Tags: Immigration , investment , border , security , check

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