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'Failsafe' face scanners could replace passport officers at airports

Posted on 9:06 PM by Sameer Shah

Facial recognition machines are to be installed at airports to replace passport officers under border control plans announced today.

The machines will scan a travellers' face to compare them with the images on their biometric passports and open an automated gate when a match is registered.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who unveiled details of the scheme today, claims it will shorten immigration queues and boost border security.



Facial recognition machines are to be installed at airports to replace passport officers under border control plans announced today.

The machines will scan a travellers' face to compare them with the images on their biometric passports and open an automated gate when a match is registered.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who unveiled details of the scheme today, claims it will shorten immigration queues and boost border security.




Some critics believe the machines will be prone to error because of the inability of facial recognition systems to make perfect matches consistently.


They fear that this could lead to large queues and subject some passengers - such as the elderly - to an unnecessary ordeal each time they try to return to the country.

Ms Smith expressed confidence in the machines, however, and said they could play an important role in strengthening Britain's borders.

'The UK has one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to ensure it stays that way,' she said.

'Our hi-tech electronic borders system will allow us to count all foreign nationals in and out of the UK, while checking them against watch lists.

'These checks make up just one part of Britain's triple ring of security, alongside fingerprint visas for three-quarters of the world's population, and the roll out of ID cards for foreign nationals, locking people to one identity.'

Most passengers from outside the EU are now required to obtain a biometric visa, with details of their fingerprints, before travelling to Britain.

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