Are UK migration figures estimation?

The government denies that the IPS is a faulty instrument for measuring its progress on migration for the UK. Yet there does not seem to be an accurate system for counting people in and out of the country and government has promised to reduce net migration (the difference between those entering and leaving the country) to “tens of thousands” by 2015.

Border Management

The e-borders scheme meant to do this activity, and is still a work in progress. Despite government assurances, according to experts when it comes to measuring how many people are leaving the country is unclear and the increasingly rigid process it is to get a visa for the UK, it seems there is no way of knowing if someone is still in the country when it expires. E-borders replaced the old paper-based embarkation system, scrapped in the 1990s.

IPS emigration estimates are based on interviews with just 2,000 people and there is currently no alternative source of data to measure them against. Instead the government relies on the answers given by a sample of travellers who agree to be stopped and questioned by a team of social survey interviewers at Heathrow and other main air, sea and rail points of entry to the UK.

E-borders which was primarily meant to improve security, when combined with a biometric identity card scheme, began collecting details of passenger and crews for inbound flights from outside the EU at nine airports in March. The plan now is to extend it to ports and railway stations by 2014 and to passengers from within the EU by 2015. But that will depend on persuading all EU countries to share passenger and crew list information – quite a number of them regard this as illegal under European free movement laws.

Electronic border schemes can be adopted by both airlines and airports. One product by ARINC, Electronic Borders, is designed to adapt to the changes in operational process and support new technology, enabling Border Control agencies to flex with changing demands and capabilities.

Today it is not enough to simply secure borders from unauthorised entry by known undesirables. Now it is necessary to manage the stay of travellers, from entry through to exit, to know who has been in the country and when they left.

The ARINC Border Management System delivers a full stay management capability, screening all travellers before they travel, and managing visitors throughout their stay. For more information please visit the ARINC Electronic Borders website.

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