07-09-2007, 08:54 AM
Direct Action Resistance Fighter
Joined: Aug 2006
UK defends its border procedures
Quote:The UK government has defended itself against claims by Interpol's head that it is failing to check visitors against a database of stolen passports.
Ronald K Noble, the police agency's chief, said there was a "clear link between stolen passports and al-Qaeda linked terrorist activity".
In an interview, Mr Noble told the BBC: "The UK's anti-terrorist effort is in the wrong century."
The Home Office has insisted border officials were aware of the list.
It said any name on the list which was also regarded as a threat by police forces or the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) would be passed to border authorities.
Mr Noble said he hoped the UK would be connected to the database - which includes the numbers of 7m stolen passports - "within months".
He said in an open letter that only 17 out of Interpol's 186 member countries systematically checked the passport numbers of incoming travellers against the database.
"On the other hand, all countries systematically check our bags to see if we are carrying bottles of water or other liquids," he said.
"These priorities seem misplaced."
He also warned that a British "watch list" had not been passed to Interpol.
"Until this happens, any time another Interpol member country consults our database about any of the individuals on this watch list, Interpol will have to report that they are unknown, meaning that the UK might lose a significant investigative lead," he said.
This also meant "those individuals on the UK terrorist watch list would remain free to plan and carry out more terrorist attacks".
'Tighten this up'
Tory immigration spokesman Damien Green said the government was more concerned with headline-grabbing policy announcements than practical measures such as the Interpol database.
He added: "We are one of the countries that international terrorists want to hit.
"Why are we not at the forefront of this technology?"
Prime Minister Gordon Brown told Sky News on Sunday that the government was looking at the issue "as a matter of urgency".
He added: "We do now need more information flowing internationally about who are potential terrorists and who are potential suspects.
"I think it is very important that we tighten this up."
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