Biometric Technology

Home Department written question – answered on 13th September 2006.

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Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what (a) planned and (b) existing projects in his Department involve the use of biometric technology.

Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

Planned projects in the Home Office which will make use of biometrics include:

preparation for the addition of a second biometric in the UK ePassport;

Identity Cards programme in support of the national identity scheme;

UKvisas Biometric programme to ensure that all UK issued visas will use biometric identifiers by the end of 2007 or early 2008;

Biometric travel documents;

Biometric residence permit to be developed in line with common EU standards;

IAFS+, extension of IAFS (Immigration and Asylum Fingerprints System) to accommodate the biometric visas and biometric residence permits; e-Borders programme, delivering a modernised border control, which is fundamentally more effective, efficient and secure to meet the future operational needs of UK border, law enforcement and intelligence agencies;

FIND national database of facial images managed by the Police Information TechnologyOrganisation, PITO;

PITO project to use face recognition to support FIND;

LANTERN, a mobile fingerprint system under development by PITO.

In addition there are a number of smaller projects some of which are partnerships with other organisations in the UK and abroad.

Existing projects in the Home Office which make use of biometrics include:

IDENT1 UK police platform for fingerprints and palmprints;

UK ePassport: completion of its rollout scheduled for third quarter of 2006;

IAFS (Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint System), database of biometric data relating to immigration cases and asylum seekers;

ARC (application registration cards) and the use of mobile quick check readers. ARC is a credit card sized plastic credential which contains fingerprint details of asylum claimants and others;

RepARC (Reporting with ARC) programme to require asylum claimants to produce their ARC card at each reporting event;

ISRP (Immigration Stateless Refugee Project) to collect fingerprint details from holders of the 1951 UN Convention Travel Document;

VIAFS—Visa Immigration and Asylum Fingerprint System, collecting fingerprints of visa applicants from certain countries;

EURODAC—European-wide system in support of the Dublin Convention uses fingerprint data in order that member states can determine whether an asylum-seeker or a foreign national found present within a member state has previously claimed asylum in another member state;

IRIS (Iris Recognition Immigration System), a free and voluntary way for air passengers to clear immigration utilising their iris image to verify their identity;

Systems in prisons to prevent escapes by prisoners exchanging places with visitors;

C-NOMIS (Custody-National Offender Management Information System). Fingerprint based for confirmation of prisoner identity against IDENT1 and PNC;

Pilot of a Methadone dispensing system using iris recognition, at HMP Eastwood Park;

Trial of fingerprint based access control to IT systems in prisons.

As for planned projects, there are a number of smaller projects some of which are partnerships with other organisations in the UK and abroad.

The Home Office is continuing to examine new technologies, and new ways of using existing biometric technologies, to ensure the protection of the public.

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