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28 November 2021

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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Britain’s borders going digital – wow!
Adrian Leopard 291

Britain’s borders going digital – wow!

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More form filling in advance but if it speeds things up on the day, that’s no bad thing

For a country which in so many ways spearheads world technology it must come as something of a shock to know that the government has no idea who is or is not in the country at any given time.

The announcement that Britain is going digital at its borders is without doubt a surprise. Anyone who arrives in the country knows that his passport will be scanned to a database, presumably to check whether he is a wanted person or not, and there has for a very long time been an assumption that the government knows you have come in, HMRC for example would be keen to have such information for tax purposes, and we also know that airlines and shipping lines always check your information when going out – they scan it too.

Are we to believe that all of this information is just lost? What about MI5? It would be something of a concern if we thought that the arrival of people got past the security services.

Why is Britain still in the middle ages so far as in and out data is concerned?

It is well known that the USA has had a strong control over its borders for many years. I recall a case of an individual who went every two years to the US to deal with a technical exam. On entry the border authorities would staple into the passport a portion of the landing card – obviously they were still pre-digital at the time. This small portion would then be removed on exit, presumably to be matched up with the incoming entry entry to show the individual had left.

Well on one occasion, the individual left but the portion of the landing card was not removed from the passport. That is, until the next trip two years later when a border officer looked at this and asked what it was doing there! Perhaps the individual was on a US illegal immigrants wanted list – who knows? It is of course some years now since advance application for visa waiver was required and it is a very easy operation and takes just a few minutes. If that is what is to be expected on entry into Britain to help protect our shores, then so be it and if it helps get through the border efficiently and quickly, so much the better.

And if it means that after three months every person arriving on a temporary basis is flagged up if they have not left, then this must be good provided that the information is used quickly before the trail goes too cold. It is apparently these unwanted people who have over-stayed their welcome who form the main part of the problem.

One of the problems of our green and pleasant land is that it is grossly over-populated. We might think we have wonderful areas of green fields and forest but what we have is minute. Take a look at France – something like four times the size of Britain and they have a smaller population.

It has never been within the British psyche to have a register of population; whilst that may have been no problem in times gone by, with services becoming overheated it is time to try and keep the population in check. After the second world war the government set up a population commission because they were worried that the population had fallen too much. They need not have worried – now we need the converse. Any ideas?

There are those who will think the present government initiative to digitalise our borders is too little too late but given the Brexit situation, this is no doubt a good time to make up for lost time.

Adrian Leopard 23-05-21

Photo Naufal Giffari

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