The government's controversial e-Borders monitoring system led to the arrest of thousands of criminals who attempted to cross the UK border, the Home Office has revealed.
Some 2,800 arrests were made during 2010 and 2011 after the electronic information of 126 million passengers was monitored by the UK Border Agency, police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and HM Revenue & Customs.
Out of the thousands arrested, 18 were linked to murder and 27 were arrested on suspicion of rape. Another 29 were apprehended in connection with sex offences and 25 for other violent crimes, the Home Office said in a statement.
The e-Borders system has also helped to seize half a tonne of drugs, five tonnes of loose tobacco and seven million cigarettes since 2005.
The e-Borders system checks 90 per cent of flights from outside the EU and up to 60 per cent of flights within the EU. This is behind target, as the aim was to track 95 per cent of all passenger journeys in and out of the UK by December 2010.
However, the role of the e-Borders system will continue to expand, and details of more individuals travelling to and from the UK will be checked, the Home Office said.
"Checking people coming to the UK is vital in helping secure the border by targeting known criminals, terror suspects and illegal migrants while gathering evidence against smugglers and people traffickers," said Damian Green, immigration minister.
"Traveller information has enabled the e-Borders to help keep our country safe, with more than 8,400 criminals, including rapists and murderers, intercepted since it was established."
The £1.2bn e-Borders scheme was launched in May 2009, but was nearly pulled after fears that it was illegal under EU law.
Privacy laws surrounding the use of personal data continue to vary across the EU, and some member states, such as Germany, have adopted a strict stance on the rights of individuals.
Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and the internet urged the US and the European Commission to produce a single set of regulations to cover issues around online privacy at a London event in March.
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