FROM THE NATIONAL FORGERY SECTION
1. All Immigration Officers and entry Clearance
Officers undergo forgery awareness training, and a programme to
train staff of the Integrated Casework Directorate has now also
2. Current technical assistance to counter
forgery falls into two basic categories:
Forgery detection equipmentmagnifiers;
ultra-violet and infra-red light sources, and
Information about current and past
document abuse and reference images of genuine documents.
3. The National Forgery Section (NFS) at
Status Park is the UK's centre for intelligence and expertise
in countering the abuse of travel documentation. It has invested
in sophisticated forensic examination equipment which uses microscopy,
ultra-violet and infra-red light to test inbuilt security safeguards
and to detect fraudulent alteration and counterfeiting in the
paper, printing and laminates of travel documents. All port controls
have access to less sophisticated but nevertheless effective magnifiers
and light sources. NFS maintains a constant watch for new document
examination equipment and techniques and works with suppliers
to improve the effectiveness of their products.
4. There are plans to upgrade, through replacement,
document examination devices at all our main ports within the
next three years. Such devices use a combination of magnification,
UV and IR light, together with other examination techniques, to
reveal tampering and counterfeiting and can be linked to computers
to enable images of questioned documents to be stored and forwarded
to other parts of the control. The use of a similar PC-based device
(Borderguard from IAI of the USA) which can also scan machine-readable
documents, automatically search for covert safeguards and compare
questioned documents to stored specimen images is also being examined.
5. The brief inspection of documents of
EU citizens on arrival (see section 15.4) has led to such documents
being targeted by forgers. Forged and counterfeit EU documents
figure highly in those detected at ports of entry and continue
also to be referred to NFS by ICD and other government departments.
Officers need to be able to examine documents quickly and to compare
them to known good specimens and it is in this area where information
technology is likely to be very effective in supplementing, and
later largely replacing, paper-based intelligence material.
6. With computer networks able to link by
e-mail all parts of the control (including the overseas visa operation
and specialist "back office" departments) on-line libraries
of specimens and forgery examples, with related intelligence,
would be available for port controls. Front line staff would
therefore be able to make reference to such information immediately
upon presentation of the document. This technique would parallel
the Warnings Index, which vastly improves operational effectiveness
by bringing a continuously updated list of information direct
to the front line, together with facility to verify data from
ICAO-format machine readable travel documents and visas.
7. With such technology, front line staff
would be able to pass quickly to NFS any intelligence (images
and text) for evaluation and dissemination. NFS now uses an advanced
intelligence database (which will soon contain both text and images)
which links NFS' own document examinations with intelligence from
ports, enforcement offices and other agencies (such as the Police,
Benefits Agency and HM Customs) to produce information about current
trends. It is possible to harvest data from the Port Administration
System about forgeries encountered at larger ports of entry to
incorporate into the NFS intelligence system.
8. NFS produces reports and expert witness
statements about documents referred to it by the Immigration Service
and other law enforcement agencies and government departments.
New varieties of counterfeit or forged travel documents are reported
to front line staff in printed "Forgery Finders" and
"Forgery Bulletins" which contain colour close-up images
of documents together with a text description of the forger's
techniques and how to spot them. Electronic distribution proposed
is likely to bring the following benefits:
The time between forensic examination
by NFS of a particular forgery and the dissemination of its features
to front line Home Office and FCO staff, as well as allied agencies,
will be cut significantly.
The intelligence will be held securely
but can be accessed at any location by any authorised officer.
The information required to spot
document abuse, including images and descriptions of commonly
abused documents, will be readily available to front line officers.
Readily accessible forgery information
will mean that checks can be carried out without unduly delaying
bona fide passengers.
9. The Document Abuse Information System
(DAIS) is a technical product that is currently being developed
to bring NFS intelligence on travel document abuse direct to ports
of entry. At present it runs on standalone Macintosh computers
deployed at eight major ports but is being reconfigured to work
on Home Office corporate systems. DAIS displays not only images
and information about genuine documents and known types of forgery,
but also demonstrates the forger's techniques and explains technical
10. The UK Passport Agency (UKPA) has recently
provided NFS with two terminals which give access to the Agency's
passport database. It is now possible to give frontline staff
near 24-hour access to information which can resolve doubts about
UK passports. The significant factor in the effectiveness of the
UKPA system in strengthening the port control is that photo images
of the rightful holders of the latest pattern UK passports are
now routinely available.
11. The Immigration Service is not currently
using or trialling any electronic biometric scanning devices because
of the small number of national passports or identify cards containing
such information. However, we understand that the latest Malaysian
passport contains a chip built into the cover and the new US Green
Card and the new Italian national identity card will contain memory
devices which can store personal data in an allegedly tamperproof
12. The International Civil Airline Organisation
(ICAO), which oversees technical standards for travel documents,
sponsors research into the encoding of information into two-dimensional
barcodes, computer chips and such and is also looking at how to
attach a facial image, fingerprint, iris scan, hand geometry etc
to travel documents. Several document security companies have
demonstrated methods of encoding data into passports and visas
such that the data can be read electronically. However, sufficient
standardisation and acceptance are yet to be achieved.
13. The US Immigration and Naturalization
Service has a set of systems under the generic name of Port PASS
(INSPASS, SENTRI, RVIS and OARS) which has run successfully for
several years. These all involve remotely-supervised border crossing
mechanisms. With INSPASS qualifying regular low-risk travellers
use smartcards in conjunction with a hand geometry reader to exit
the airport arrivals hall.
14. An alternative to biometric identification
is verification of a passenger's identity by reference to electronic
data passed to the port control from the Visa Officer. The Australians
have a system which dispenses with paper visas altogether: the
airline and Immigration Officer are alerted to "visa issued
status" by the appearance of the passenger's details on the
airline reservation system or watchlist. Canada runs a similar
15. The Immigration Service can verify machine-readable
details via its Warnings Index terminals. It may be possible in
future to target high-risk visa nationals by sending personal
details and a scanned photograph from FCO posts via the FIRECREST
and POISE systems to a central UK point from which officers on
the control can view the details. Any discrepancy between the
physical person, their document and the electronic description
would initiate further examination.
16. NFS has responsibility for evaluating
technical solutions to other immigration control problems. A major
concern is the arrival of clandestine illegal entrants concealed
in vehicles, railway wagons and freight containers. It is also
a problem which concerns the USA and Canada.
17. There are already effective methods
of detecting human presence in enclosed spaces. Currently, IS
staff at the port of Dover use sniffer dogs and hand-held CO2
detectors to inspect freight traffic for concealed illegal entrants.
The volume of traffic at Dover is such that not all vehicles can
be inspected. Even the USA, which leads the field in x-ray and
gamma ray inspection of vehicles, is unable to scan every vehicle
passing through crossing points equipped with scanners. The process
takes too long and causes disruption and delay to cross-border
traffic. The x-ray and gamma-ray installations capable of scanning
whole lorry trailers and railway wagons are expensive, typically
$3-5 million upwards. To date, no such devices have been installed
in the UK. Health and Safety considerations are also a factor
in the use of such equipment.
18. NFS is actively looking at lower-cost
alternatives which are able to scan whole vehicles but which do
not require a large fixed installation. These technologies are
based on radar detection of movement and the seismic detection
of heartbeats, the latter having worked very well in HM Prison
Service trials. These technologies are known to work well in calm,
protected environments where the time taken to scan is not a factor.
Their benefit in less favourable conditions (eg a busy port) is
yet to be proven. NFS has had contact with several suppliers and
notes HM Customs and Excise proposals for scanners for anti-smuggling
work. We would wish to have the opportunity to work with HM Customs
and Excise in the context of joint border control initiatives
to evaluate the effectiveness of these technologies on detection
of human presence.