The Home Office has introduced new automated fingerprinting equipment at its immigration and asylum screening units.
The system will allow for the electronic input, search and storage of fingerprints taken from asylum-seekers and other specific categories of applicants.
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The technology features high-powered data management and fast retrieval and matching of prints.
A Government spokesman said, "The new system will speed up the processing of immigration cases and improve detection of multiple applications"
Last October, the UK opted into a Euro-directive which seeks to establish a central computerised database for comparing the fingerprints of asylum seekers and certain other third country nationals.
Immigration minister Barbara Roche said, "The automated Fingerprint Identification System will help us to co-operate with other European countries to tackle illegal immigration efficiently."
The new system (AFIS) is being supplied by SAGEM SA, which was selected after an open competition involving all the major suppliers, and after exhaustive evaluation including benchmark accuracy testing.
It will be phased in at 16 major and regional ports by December this year, and in the smaller ports and enforcement offices by March next year.