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Home Office spends £2.3m on biometric scanners

The Home Office has awarded a £2.3m contract to a biometric technology provider as part of its new visa system.

The department has bought 1,385 livescan Guardian fingerprint scanning systems from American firm Cross Match Technologies.

The scanners will be installed by the end of this year in UK overseas missions, including embassies and consulates, and will be delivered in partnership with Steria UK.

The UK is the first EU country to collect biometric data in the form of ten fingerprints and a digital photo from every visa applicant.

Fingerprints taken as part of the visa application process are checked against UK Government records to see if the individual is already known to the Border and Immigration Agency. So far, the technology has helped the Home Office detect 8,000 "individuals of concern".

Andrew Pestell, head of procurement for UK visas, said, "The introduction of biometric visas is a key part of our contribution to the Border and Immigration Agency's strategic objective to strengthen our borders. The recording of biometric information through our new fingerprint readers allows us to fix an individual's identity at the earliest point practicable, so that only those with permission can travel to the UK."


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