UK Border Force’s IT systems are 'inadequate' and future plans 'unrealistic'

By Sooraj Shah
10 Dec 2013 View Comments

The Border Force's IT systems have been labelled "inadequate" and its future development plans called "unrealistic" by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee.

In a report by the PAC that looks into the force and how it has secured the border, the chair of the committee, Margaret Hodge, said that the Border Force prioritised passenger checks on arrival at the expense of other duties and "weakened the security of our borders".

The PAC said that there are worrying gaps in the data available to the Border Force to secure the border, stating the force has been slow to improve its Advanced Passenger Information (API), with only 63 per cent of passengers covered in advance of their arrival in the UK.

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The committee recommends that the force addresses the gaps in the data it receives on people arriving in the UK, while the quality of the existing data also needs to be better to improve the intelligence the force can gain.

It adds that frontline staff rely on an "unstable" data system - the Warnings Index - to carry out checks at the border.

"This system is at risk of collapse, but it is unclear when or how this system will be replaced," the PAC states.

The department aims to achieve 80 per cent of passenger exit checks by April 2015, but the committee believes this will place more demands on IT, and cannot understand how the force can deal with these demands considering that it has not yet issued tender documents for the new technology required.

The PAC recommends that the force sets out how, and by when, it will have in place the IT systems required to underpin the security of the UK border.

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