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Lack of intelligence in passport checks
Ubanus|Aug. 09, 2019
I was intrigued to read about Professor David Baker’s problems at airports and his failure to get an explanation from the Home Office ( Border farce: 100 stops in seven years for scientist , 7 August).
For three or more years I was routinely rejected at the electronic entry gates at Heathrow airport and would always have to present myself and passport to an officer who would very carefully check some database. None of them would engage with me or even tell me if it was a passport chip problem that I could get fixed until, finally, one did.
He said it was because “they” were looking for someone with my name. I protested that it was unlikely that this chap had my date of birth and passport number, and so on, so surely the computer could be updated? His explanation was that the system wasn’t “very clever”; that even if my name was John Dawson or Peter Davidson it might still happen – it was all based on “similar things” (very reassuring!).
He added that I shouldn’t imagine either that it was a “well looked after” system that someone updated and corrected frequently (even more reassuring!). He said my only hope was a letter to my member of parliament. My MP duly wrote to the then home secretary, Theresa May , who replied, in terms, that nothing could be done (problems at immigration means problems at immigration, I suppose).
So it continued for some two years more, during which time I had a niggling anxiety that the database might be an international one and that, sooner or later, I might be incarcerated at a less friendly border (I do travel to the US a lot). Finally, earlier this year, it stopped, as suddenly as it had begun – presumably Peter/John Dawson/Davidson is safely in custody.
Professor Peter Dawson
Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire
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