1.By a letter dated 3rd March 2021, the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments requested a memorandum on the following points:
“(1) In relation to the operator’s defence in regulation 8(3), explain how an operator will know whether the unique passenger reference number provided by the passenger is a number received from the Home Office rather than any number provided by the passenger in the correct format.
(2) Explain what criminal or other legal consequences arise from a passenger falsifying a unique passenger reference number and how those consequences are expected to be applied in practice.”
2.An operator’s liability in relation to a passenger can be discharged by recording a passenger reference number that has been provided by the passenger and is in the correct format. Operators are not expected or required to verify the reference number as transport operations originate from many countries and boarding takes place in many circumstances (from passenger airports to heavy goods vehicles being driven on to ferries); real time verification would impose a significant burden on operators that would often be impractical to manage. It is recognised that this approach does not ensure that every passenger will have completed a Passenger Locator Form before boarding but the operator’s check will prompt passengers who have failed to complete the form to do so and reduce the number of non-compliant passengers arriving into England. Whilst it is possible for a passenger to falsify a unique passenger reference number, the defence in regulation 8(3) ensures that the passenger cannot make up any number and that they will at least need to provide one in the correct format, deterring casual non-compliance.
3.Providing a false passenger reference number to an operator (which would normally occur outside the jurisdiction) is not specifically prohibited but a passenger who has not completed a Passenger Locator Form upon arrival in England would be liable for contravening regulation 3 of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020. Checks for forms are carried out by Border Force at ports of entry.
Department for Transport
9 March 2021