Select Committee on Home Affairs Written Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Home Office

  At the Committee meeting on 20 November you asked Stephen Hickey, a Department for Transport (DfT) witness, about new proposals that passengers on domestic flights between Northern Ireland and Great Britain will be subject to identity checks. I am replying as this is a matter for the Home Office.

  Section 14 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 introduced a new power that will allow the police to capture passenger, crew and service information on air and sea journeys within the United Kingdom. The intention is that the power will be brought into force by secondary legislation in 2008. The specific police requirements under this power, which will include details of the routes affected and data required, are still under discussion within Government. Once the proposals have been finalised they will be subject to a 12 week public consultation.

  It is expected that this police power will only apply to air and sea routes between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. People will not be required to use passports, but may be required to produce on of several types of documentation when travelling to enable the carrier to meet the requirements of a police request. Some airlines already request photographic ID under their own conditions of travel to prevent ticket fraud. However all airlines must ensure that it is the same passenger who checks in hold luggage who then boards the aircraft. The police power is designed to be proportionate and reasonable.

  We are working very closely with the Republic of Ireland to address the vulnerability in the UK borders from terrorists exploiting the Common Travel Area by attempting to enter the UK via the Irish Republic. The intention is to focus efforts on terrorists and people involved in serious and organised crime. The police will use this data collected under this power to support intelligence led interventions to counter terrorism and tackle serious and organised crime.

  The police do use their powers under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 to examine travellers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Schedule 7 allows an examining officer to examine and/or detain a person who is at a port or in the border area and (where) the examining officer believes that the persons presence at the port or in the area is connected with entering or leaving Great Britain or Northern Ireland, or their travelling by air within Great Britain or Northern Ireland, to determine whether they are someone who is or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. This power is, however, limited to counter-terrorism issues.

December 2007

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