Woolas brings the border to Wythenshawe

THE government is building a secret database to track and hold the international travel records of all 60m Britons. The intelligence centre will store names, addresses, telephone numbers, seat reservations, travel itineraries and credit card details for all 250m passenger movements in and out of the UK . The data will be retained for 10 years.

The exact location of the new database is a secret within Whitehall , although Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, accidentally let slip during a public talk to officials late last year that it was in the Manchester area. All staff have now been instructed to refer to it only as “a new operations centre in the northwest”.

It has now emerged that the centre, officially called the e-Borders Operations Centre, is to be housed in an industrial estate in Wythenshawe, though the precise location remains unknown.

The Wythenshawe spy centre will house more than 300 police and immigration officers. A similar number of technicians will help check travellers’ details against police, MI5, benefit agency and other government “watch lists”.

The centre, which was previously called the Joint Border Operations Centre, has been collecting passenger information since October 2008. The centre will, by July, be able to fully track passenger movements. By the end of 2009, details of all passengers and crew entering and leaving the UK will be recorded.

The centre will be run by the UK Identity and Passport Service, with input from HMRC, MI5, MI6, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the police.

Under the scheme, once a person buys a ticket to travel to or from the UK by air, sea or rail, the carrier will deliver that person’s data to the agency. At the moment limited information about selected routes and travellers is kept on the pilot database run by the agency at an office in Hounslow, west London . In future, all such data will automatically be sent in bulk to the new database, instead of being released in response to specific requests by the authorities.

Phil Woolas, the immigration minister, defended the plans. “The UK has one of the toughest borders in the world and we are determined to ensure it stays that way. Our high-tech electronic borders system will allow us to count all passengers in and out and target those who aren’t willing to play by our rules.”

Well, you might have noticed, Phil, that we don’t like playing by YOUR rules, nor do the majority of people in this country who are sick of the ever newer measures of population control!.

Posted byManchester No Borders at 10:08 AM