James Brokenshire has said the introduction of Exit Checks at ports across the country marks a step change in the UK’s ability to track movements across the border. The information provided will give a much clearer picture of who is staying in the country when they have no right to be here and help track known criminals and terrorists.
Exit checks were introduced at all airports and ports in the UK on 8 April. Information included in passports or travel documents will now be collected for passengers leaving the country on scheduled commercial international air, sea and rail routes.
The data collected will provide the most comprehensive picture we have ever had of whether those who enter the UK leave when they are supposed to. The information collected will improve our ability to identify and tighten the immigration routes and visas that are most vulnerable to abuse.
Exit checks data will help target individuals who have overstayed their visas and are in the UK illegally. For example new powers brought in by the Immigration Act 2014 can be used to remove driving licences and prevent individuals from opening bank accounts where we know they have not left the country.
While predominantly an immigration and data tool, the checks will also improve national security by helping the police and security services track the movements of known or suspected criminals and terrorists, supporting the wider work across Government and our law enforcement agencies.
James Brokenshire who has overseen the project in his role as Minister for Security and Immigration said:
“It is right that we have an immigration system that is fair, that tackles illegal immigration and that clamps down on those who try to cheat the system by staying here when they have no right to do so.
“Exit checks will provide us with vital information that confirms a person’s exit from the UK. The coalition Government committed to reintroducing them in 2010 and the Immigration Act 2014 put in place legislation which gave carrier and port staff the powers to carry out these checks.
“Port and travel operators are experts in their business and know their customers best, which is why we’ve supported them to design and trial the systems for collecting data in a way that will minimise the impact on customers.
“It is vital for the country’s economy that our ports operate smoothly and that families can get away on holiday on time, and important for our security that we continue to strengthen our borders. After two years spent working closely with the ports we will stay focused on successfully introducing these checks together.
“The UK already has one of the most comprehensive systems in the world for recording who travels across our borders: delivering on our commitment to reintroduce exit checks will make us more secure and better informed than ever.”