back to article e-Borders snares 2,800 possible crims, 5 tons of baccy

The UK Border Agency has claimed to have captured large number of crime suspects through the e-Borders monitoring system. It has issued a statement saying that alerts from the system led to 2,800 arrests in 2010-11 after the details of 126 million passengers were checked against watchlists of suspects wanted by itself, police …


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  1. John Riddoch
    Black Helicopters

    Do the maths...

    If they snared 2800 suspects with only 55% coverage, does that mean that 2290 suspect got through un-noticed? ;)

  2. ravenviz Silver badge
    Big Brother


    I think you'll only notice the intrusion if you're a crim.

    Solution: Don't be a crim.

    1. Aldous


      so you wont mind having your abode fitted with video and sound recording devices in case you ever decide to commit a crime in the future? after all your not a crim so why worry

    2. BristolBachelor Gold badge


      Please tell me your name, address, bank details, where you travel to, who you travel with, your medical conditions...

      I mean why not? How am I different from any number of people who can access all the information collected on you?

      If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear, so tell me.

    3. DrXym Silver badge

      Does not compute

      ravenviz, a system that requires you enter your personal travel details so they can be cross referenced against a crime database and god knows what else IS intrusive. You're subjecting yourself to a criminal background check simply for flying on a plane.

      Nor is it likely that the system is perfect. People have similar names. People may have passport photos that bear a resemblance to criminals. Details of crimes may have been entered incorrectly. There must have been numerous times where someone was been pulled out and arrested, or missed their flight, possibly held in detention and questioned despite being entirely innocent of any wrongdoing.

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        re ravenviz

        Sure, but I don't know of what use it be to you unless you wanted to break the law.

        1. Ru
          Thumb Up


          "Sure, but I don't know of what use it be to you unless you wanted to break the law."

          I envisage some sort of distributed, open, croud-sourced, peer-to-peer and extensively buzzword compliant justice system.

          We will publish your details in various highly trafficed sites, asking questions like 'have you ever been sexually assualted by this individual?'. I'm sure as a fine, upstanding citizen you'll not have to worry about any negative responses. If there were any, we'd forward them to the police and to your employers and parents for closer investigation.

          You'll be fine with all this, naturally.

        2. Vic


          > Sure

          I notice that you haven't actually *supplied* any data. Whassamatter? Not quite so keen to see privacy invaded when it's your own?

          > but I don't know of what use it be to you unless you wanted to break the law

          It doesn't matter what use it will be to anyone else. If you're not "a crim", you won't notice the intrusion. That was your point, was it not?


          1. ravenviz Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re @ravenviz

            I provide data to confidential systems all the time, this is so I can have a mortgage, a CRB certificate, drive a car, have a passport. I see no benefit in submitting private data to this forum other than risking the information being used to my detriment.

  3. Ben Rosenthal

    so basically

    126 million passengers had their privacy invaded, for less than 100 serious criminals to be captured? I could care less about bootleg baccy and a bit of weed tbh.

    Sounds like a fail to me, but if we spin out the sex offender part then you can't be critical unless you support rape and murder!!!!!11111one

    1. Nick 6

      I'm sure you could...

      I'm sure you could care less about that, but I wonder if you could *not *care less about bootlegging ?

      Pedantic minds want to know.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As usual, the spin doesn't make sense.

    So there's been 2800 arrests. Over 18+27+29+25=99 crimes and some smuggling small change. How many were found guilty? Or is that innocence until proven guilty thing well and truly a thing of the past? And where does that 8400 figure come from? They've been "intercepted" but then were let go anyway? How does that compute?

    And all this at the cost of privacy for 126 million travelers that had absolutely nothing to do with all that. If that sounds like a fair trade-off the ACPO will want to talk to you about offering a policy making job, n'mind that they aren't government, nobody cares.

    In other news, apparently INTERPOL wants to take over the worlds' birth and death registers, or at least shove that ID card thing down everybody's throats on the premise that law abiding citizens must surely be comfy with INTERPOL tracking their every move. Thus says their secretary general at the fourth Annual EMEA ID WORLD summit. Just what are those peeps up to?

    1. DavCrav

      My guess

      My guess is that most of those "intercepted" were skipping bail. Now, I'm not saying that that proves they're guilty, but since skipping bail is itself a crime...

      (Whether we want to subject everyone to this database so we can catch a few people skipping bail is another question entirely.)

    2. Vic

      As usual, the spin is spinning...

      > Over 18+27+29+25=99 crimes

      We don't even know it's that many.

      We had 27 rapes, 29 sex offences. So the rapes, being sex offences, might well be a subset of those. We had 25 violent crimes - rape is usually violent. The 27 rapes, 29 sex offences, and 25 violent crimes could even have been the same 29 offences.

      But if they'd claimed to have spent loads of dosh and intruded into the privacy of 126 million people for just 47 convictions, questions might have been asked.

      Half a tonne of weed and 5 tonnes of baccy - that doesn't strike me as a whole lot...


  5. mark phoenix

    Cheap at only £4 million pounds a criminal

    The projected cost of E-Borders was £1.2 billion

    Only governments know how to really waste money

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      if only they could waste it at the rate you suggest

      we're forgetting that for every government salary pound there is a buried pension liability of at least as much again in today's money.

      Not to mention a skewing of opinion towards ever-increasing surveillance and restriction - these gubmadroids are hardly the liberal easy-going, productive sort.

    2. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: Cheap at only £4 million pounds a criminal

      Are you divding £1.2Bn by 300?

      The £1.2Bn figure is for 10 years 2007-2017 so assuming that it's 300 "serious crimes" so far and the capture rate will double as the coverage doubles it's probably going to be more like 1500 in total, so £800k per "serious" criminal, i.e. murderers, rapists, sex offenders and violent criminals, given the cost of a murder case usually goes over £1m (and often tens of millions) it's not a disproportionate amount.

      You also have to take into account that the murderer, rapist, sex offender and other violent criminals should in theory be less likely to offend again (or at least have less opportunity).

      OK, £800k to possibly catch a murderer? still too expensive? that's not considering the other 2700 arrests for less significant crimes (which will probably ramp up to 5000+), although £1.2Bn sounds like a hideous amount of money, the numbers do stack up.

      So, if financially, it is reasonable (or at least the case can be argued), what about the "intrusive" loss of privacy? well, if you look at the details collected, it's stuff off the passport (name, nationality, gender, date of birth, passport number and expiry date etc) and where and when (carrier’s name, number and departure and arrival points), so far this data doesn't look very private, but also other details are captured; (reservation information, such as date and place of reservation, passenger contact and payment details, baggage details) - that's to my mind the only privacy issue, although carriers are not obliged to collect this information, they are only obliged to pass it on.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        If we see this as assurance...

        ... then can I please have that sum, yes even 800k UKP will do nicely, for every ten years that I've been good?

        That doesn't compute very well, does it? Aw shoot. Seems being a law abiding citizen just doesn't pay these days.

        Er, the tinfoil lined black trenchcoat, thanks.

  6. JP19

    help keep our country safe

    I think the country would be safer if they let the criminals, rapists, etc leave. Wonder what proportion were arrested coming rather than going? They didn't manage to nab one terrorist either - oh dear.

    And why are they claiming to have helped seize drugs and baccy 4 years before the scheme existed?

    Journalistic screw up or are they that desperate to make the scheme look useful?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There'd be a public outcry over that.

      The necessity of punishing and all that we could have interesting debates about and indeed we as in the people probably should as simply calling for tougher crimes on just about everything eventually makes the whole thing rather meaningless, but I think I'll not try and fit that in this comment. More worrying is the immediate consequence of just letting everyone go:

      So someone could commit a sack of crimes, and simply be let out to, oh I don't know, commit some more elsewhere? I don't think neighbouring countries would thank you for that. Though it's been done: It's called "transportation" but you weren't supposed to come back afterward, ever.

      The main point, however, is that this e-borders thing is yet another "government IT project", therefore "government priced" and "government effective", and is needlessly costing us privacy --there are better ways than to track everybody's every move and keep the data for indecently long times to pick out a few bad apples-- for rather poor results. After all, only one in 45000 people checked was apprehended, or 0.002 percent of travelers kept tabs on.

      To put that in IT terms, that is four nines of senseless privacy invasion.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    8400 is over a number of years, since 2009. But it doesn't mean much anyway as it's only arrests - not convictions.

    if 2800 is one year, and 8400 is for about 3 years, and if in one year 99 were convicted then there about 300 people convicted in the lifetime of the scheme.

    Compare with the millions of passenger movements and you get an idea of scale of intrusiveness to catch a tiny tiny miniscule minority.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    know your rights

    all 3 of them

    you have the right not to be killed, unless it is by a policeman or an aristocrat

    you have the right to food/money provided you don't mind a bit of investigation, humiliation and if you cross your fingers, rehabilitation

    you have the right to free speech, provided you're not dumb enough to actually tr......

  9. Guy Herbert
    Black Helicopters

    And there is no connection whatsoever ....

    Between this fatuous press release and the reports of the Home Office's attempts retrospectively to legalise e-Borders in European law by plugging a travel data retention directive?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What invasion of privacy?

    I don't get the privacy thing here...

    You've given your details to the bank, travel agent, airline and so on, then you have to prove your ID and get yourself & your bags scanned.... but f*** me, a computer automatically cross checking your details with criminal watchlists - no way, that's invasion of privacy! WTF?

    That's common sense to me, and no different to the motorway & police car ANPR cameras that check you as you drive.

    Think everyone is going a tad OTT with the privacy thing here, or are you all up to no good?

    1. Starkadder

      Not clear on the concept

      You clearly do not get the 'privacy thing'. We all have a right to go about our business without being monitored by the authorities or quizzed on the reasons for our journeys. The ANPR system is a gross invasion of privacy. Collecting information because it might be useful down the track somewhere is actually against the law - although our spineless and powerless ICO will not do anything about it. European law says that failure to provide the information demanded by e-Borders cannot be used as a reason to bar travel, and that carriers must so inform their passengers. The British have steadfastly ignored this inconvenient little fact, but it is clear that at present the entire e-Borders system is in serious breach of EU regulations - the main one being that all EU citizens have the freedom to travel from cone member state to another within the EU without our journeys being recorded. e-Borders is going to record every journey you make, even within the EU, for 10 years. Not allowed!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not clear on the concept

        e-Borders does not actually collect any information that you have not already given, it just collates that information you have already given and applys intelligence to for the purposes of crime fighting.

        This is fundamentally how law inforcement works, and goes far beyond the e-Borders system. Take away the technology, this is what a police investigator would do - only manually and involing much more 'work' with a much lower success rate.

        I understand the concept that is raising concern... namely the fact that an automated system probes your data without due cause just on the off chance of getting a match. However, this is a computer doing those seraches, and if it doesn't get a 'hit', you are not brought to the attention of a real person, so what privacy exactly is being invaded?

        Criminals are armed with technology, if we want to stand any chance of fighting them, then this needs to be applied to law enforcment also. Only those with something to hide should be in any way concerned about this.

        The point being, that if my privacy were to be maintained at all times, I would then be able to board a plane and blow it up if I so wished. Without being checked, my bags scanned, cross referenced or anything UNLESS I was suspected of being about to blow up a plane - beacuse that would invade my privacy.

        So, you are basically saying, our intelligence agencies should be shut down as they are based on privacy invasion, controls, checks and so forth should be banned unless the individual is suspected/under investigation and so on. That is plainly ridiculous, and would result in a lawless crime ridden society that niether you or I would want to live in.

        So, I maintain my stance, that the only time anything like e-Borders should be of concern is when you have something to hide. Personally, I think a system that prevents those who are wanted for crimes leaving the country and brings them to police attention is a good thing.

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