IMMIGRANTS in Derbyshire are to undergo compulsory hi-tech facial scans as part of a national UK Border Agency crackdown on illegal workers.
Information from the scans will be used for new identity cards for the foreign nationals, which will be issued to 90% of immigrants in Britain by 2015.
Biometric scanners, such as those used in the scheme, will also take facial images for voluntary National ID cards which the Government plans to introduce later this year.
Derby’s Passport Interview Office – the only place immigrants can be scanned in the East Midlands – dealt with its first two foreign nationals yesterday.
It will take about 10 days for their cards to be processed after which they will need to use their card to prove their identity to employers, universities, colleges and at border control.
Border Agency officials say the cards will be a more secure form of identification than passports and birth certificates, which can be forged.
The scanners take 16 measurements of the face, which are then stored as data on an encrypted chip embedded in the cards.
Fingerprints data taken at the passport offices will also be stored on the chips.
It is hoped the cards will prevent fraud such as that by Iraqi Taha Morad in Derby from 2005 to 2007.
The Derby Telegraph previously reported how the 36-year-old had no legal right to be in Britain but managed to trick three job agencies and the Department for Work and Pensions so he could get a job and claim benefits.
UK Border Agency senior executive Glen Carr said that, at the moment, Derby’s passport office was only dealing with people applying as a student, or based on marriage, to live in the UK. Other foreign nationals would be scanned over the next three years.
They will be told that they need to get scanned after they apply.
Mr Carr said: “We are only dealing with a few foreign nationals for now while the equipment is tested but by the end of the year the Derby office will be dealing with about 80 people a day.
“Employers need to ask the foreign national for their card. There’s a hotline they can ring to find out if the interviewee has permission to work in the UK.
“Customs officers will have the information to hand at airports, etc.”
Mr Carr said scanners for reading the cards were currently in production but that it was not yet clear how they would be used.
Gail Adams, UK Border Agency regional director said the ID cards showed the Government’s tough policy on illegal workers.
She said: “These cards will help us stop people illegally accessing benefits and make it easier than ever to crack down on illegal working.”