The Government has announced a new data sharing agreement with Canada and Australia to combat identity fraud. Pursuant to the deal, the countries will swap fingerprint information on foreign criminals and asylum seekers - making it easier to identify migrants trying to hide their past from authorities and speed up removals.
The USA will be joining the agreement shortly and New Zealand is considering legislation to join in the near future; the deal also builds on existing agreements already in place with a number of European countries.
In the first year of the agreement, each country will be able to share 3,000 sets of fingerprints with partner countries - this number will increase as the deal rolls out.
UK Border Agency deputy chief executive Jonathan Sedgwick said:
"We already have one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to ensure it stays that way.
"We are continuing to expand our watch-lists, work more closely with foreign Governments to share information, and speed up the re-documentation of those being removed.
"This new agreement will help us identify and remove individuals whose identities were previously unknown but also improve public safety through better detection of lawbreakers and those coming to the UK for no good."
In one pilot of the scheme, a man claiming asylum as a Somali was discovered to be an Australian citizen wanted for rape. This resulted in his deportation to Australia, where he faced court proceedings and is now serving a jail sentence.
As part of the agreement, the Government will employ the following measures to protect privacy:
- All fingerprints will remain anonymous and cannot be linked to an individual
unless a match is detected between countries
- All fingerprints will be destroyed once a match has been completed with no
fingerprint database being compiled
- Encryption and other security tools will be used to protect files that are shared
** Additional Information & Advice **
You can obtain further information about identity fraud, immigration and asylum on FindLaw.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, however, it may be a good idea to speak with a solicitor who specialises in immigration and asylum law. You can be matched with a solicitor for free via solicitor matching services, which can also help you to understand the best course of action for your situation and whether you are ready to hire a solicitor.