Airport e-gate failure could be ‘risk to national security’ – and why it may keep happening

Airport e-gate failure could be 'risk to national security' - and why it may keep happening

Failure of e-gates at the UK’s airports “poses a danger to national security”, a travel expert has told Sky News.

There are long queues and “scenes of utter chaos” at the UK border due to a nationwide problem with e-gates at ports and airports.

The technical issue caused them to stop working late on Friday, meaning all passengers have to be processed through staffed airport desks.

The Home Office said the issue had been resolved in a statement at around 6pm on Saturday.

But Paul Charles, a travel expert at the PC Agency, told Sky News that underinvestment in the UK’s transport infrastructure had left these systems “hanging by a thread”.

“This is the busiest weekend since the end of 2019 for the number of arrivals and departures from the UK,” he said.

“I suspect they have simply not been able to cope with the huge volume of passengers we are seeing.”

With the e-gates down, it means the manual checking of passports by UK Border Force staff.

These staff, Mr Charles added, will be under pressure to work “very quickly” to try to keep the queues down – “so they may miss things that they would, in other normal circumstances, find”.

This could, he warned, “pose dangers to national security”.

E-gate system ‘creaking at the seams’

Those hoping to travel this summer will be disheartened to hear Mr Charles’ assessment.

“I dare say the e-gate system will fall over again,” he said.

“It is creaking at the seams, it needs more investment, this is a major outage that suggests it is a pretty fundamental problem that is causing the system to fall over for well over 12 hours.”

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Mr Charles said millions of pounds needs to be spent “making our systems and our borders much more secure”.

There are more than 270 e-gates at the UK border.

They can be used by British and EU citizens over the age of 12, as well as people from several other countries including Australia, Canada, the US, Japan, and New Zealand.


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