The National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC) has been opened, with hopes to enable the UK Border Agency to meet its target of screening 100 per cent of passenger movements in and out of the UK by air, sea or rail by 2014.
The NBTC is the UK Border Agency's hi-tech hub where watch-list checks on passengers entering and leaving Britain will be carried out and will replace the smaller Joint Border Operations Centre at Heathrow as the operational hub for e-Borders, which electronically checks passenger data before they step on a plane.
UK Border Agency officers will work alongside the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the Police to share intelligence and issue alerts where a suspect is identified by the electronic border checks.
More than 100 million passenger movements in and out of the UK were checked against UK Border Agency and police watch lists last year. The checks alerted the police to wanted UK and foreign nationals flying into British airports, allowing arrests to be made as soon as the individual landed or for them to be returned on the next flight.
The NBTC receives information on passengers and crew and, over time, will check an estimated 250 million passenger movements per year. It will also process visa application data for overseas posts by checking the applicant and sponsor details against watch-lists.
Since the e-Borders system was launched in May 2009 there have been over 30,000 alerts and has lead to the identification of people smugglers, the confiscation of fraudulently used British passports and the seizure of millions of pounds worth of drugs and tobacco.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "Thanks to our hi-tech e-Borders system the UK now has one of the strongest borders in the world. It means we can count people in and out of the UK and capture known criminals, terror suspects and illegal migrants while gathering evidence against smugglers and people traffickers."
Ministry of Defence