Data Sharing Deal To Check On Asylum Seekers And Foreign Criminals

Data sharing deal to check on asylum seekers and foreign criminals

Thousands of suspect asylum seekers and foreign prisoners are to have their fingerprints checked with other countries in a new international deal, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

By Tom Whitehead, Home Affairs Editor
Published: 7:00AM BST 21 Aug 2009

The Home Office will today announce a data sharing agreements with Australia and Canada to check fingerprints on those applying for asylum or resisting deportation to help uncover hidden pasts.

The United States and New Zealand are also expected to sign up in the near future as part of a five country network.
In one pilot, a man claiming asylum as a Somali was discovered to be an Australian wanted for rape in his home country.

The Home Office denied suggestions the move could impede on peoples privacy and no database would be established to store the fingerprints.

All prints will remain anonymous unless a match is made and all will be destroyed after the checks.

Up to 3,000 checks will be made in the first year but that figure is expected to rise over coming years. Officials will initially focus on suspect cases.

The aim is to help detect anyone who may have unknown criminal histories or to identify people who may be claiming a different name or nationality.

However the deal, by its nature, will be limited to information held by the other four countries and not around the world.

Similar checks are already carried out with some European countries.

Jonathan Sedgwick, UK Border Agency Deputy Chief Executive, said: We are continuing to expand our watch-lists, work more closely with foreign Governments to share information, and speed up the re-documentation of those being removed.

This new agreement will help us identify and remove individuals whose identities were previously unknown but also improve public safety through better detection of lawbreakers and those coming to the UK for no good.