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Delay fear amid new passport checks

Published 07/04/2015

New passport checks are coming into force at ports and airports
New passport checks are coming into force at ports and airports

Passport checks on all travellers leaving Britain are being introduced from tomorrow amid fears of long queues for departing passengers.

The exit checks will particularly effect cross-Channel and Channel Tunnel travellers, with passengers arriving at the port of Dover having to have their passports scanned.

However, in an attempt to minimise any possible disruption the exit checks are being introduced gradually.

For the first month all passports will be scanned but only 25% of the passport holders will have their details verified to ensure they are genuine.

After a month, there will be a move to 50% verification and by the middle of June a figure of 100% verification will be introduced.

As well as at sea ports, the checks are also being introduced at airports but as airlines will be providing advance passenger information from an individual's travel documents, air passengers will not notice the new system in action.

A P&O Ferries' spokesman at Dover said: "They have picked a quiet day for the introduction of the checks. The actual scanning of passports is quick, it's the verification that takes longer.

"We are hoping that there will be a fairly seamless transition to the new system."

The Home Office has said the exit checks will improve the Government's understanding of who is leaving the UK and create a much clearer picture of who is staying in the country when they have no right to be here.

They will also help the police and security services track the movements of known criminals and terrorists.

Security and Immigration Minister James Brokenshire 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."

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