A report by the UK’s Home Affairs Select Committee has criticised the UK Border Agency’s IRIS biometric scanning system, saying the £9 million would have been better spent on employing additional immigration staff.
IRIS was introduced in UK airports in 2006 to automate and speed up the processing of passengers through passport control, but enrolment for the scheme was halted earlier this year.
Manchester and Birmingham airports have already turned off their IRIS e-gates, and Heathrow and Gatwick airports have announced that they will do the same after the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer.
The report states that the money spent on the IRIS system “could have been better spent on border staff – at least 60 immigration officers could have been employed with the money spent on IRIS.”
It adds: “It has been alleged that some of the machines, including iris scanners, are malfunctioning and that the agency staff have actively discouraged people from using e-gates. Members of the committee have seen for the themselves the closure of this facility and confusion of staff about how to manage and direct the flow of travellers, with staff only able to advise that ‘it’s not working’.”