Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 34


The Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) network is heavily dependent on receiving immediate notification of Inadequately Documented Arrivals (IDAs) who reach the UK having embarked from one of their locations. This information enables the ALOs not only to quickly establish what method may have been used to circumvent the controls in place but also, in the case of forged or counterfeit documents, to warn the airlines of emerging trends.

  In the early days the Carriers Liaison Unit (CLU), the operational headquarters of the network, had little option but to use telephones and faxes to convey the required data but, where documentation was concerned, the quality of the product received was less than ideal. The more or less simultaneous roll-out of the FIRECREST and POISE computer systems in the Foreign Office and the Home Office respectively has enabled full use to be made of Information Technology, in particular e-mail. As well as being ideal for transmitting near perfect reproductions of suspect documents, generally e-mail allows the ALOs to maintain simultaneous contact with each other and the CLU, an extremely useful tool for tracking, for instance, large groups of IDAs. Similarly Entry Clearance sections can also communicate easily with colleagues around the world through the Firecrest computer system.

  A core function of the ALOs is to provide training for carriers in UK passport and visa requirements and we are constantly looking at ways to enhance the quality, and thus the impact, of their presentations. Agreement has been reached in principle to replace the existing 35mm slide projectors with laptop computers and data projectors. This will enable individual ALOs to quickly and easily adapt their presentations to take account of the differing needs of their audiences. An additional benefit is that by using scanners and digital cameras, which will be provided where necessary, images of forged counterfeit documents encountered in the field can also be included.

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Prepared 31 January 2001