By Laura Kemp • 03 August 2021 • 17:39
Huge queues at Heathrow airport as new computer system crashes. Image: Wikimedia
There have been huge queues for travellers at Heathrow Airport because of problems with a new computer system brought in by the Home Office that is designed to tackle terrorism.
The new security system cost £372m and was brought in in June, it is designed to check passengers’ names against terrorism and immigration records. It most recently broke down on Sunday, August 1, causing passengers at e-gates to be rejected and needing to be manually checked in, according to claims.
With Border Force staff needing to isolate because of Coronavirus over the past few weeks, the system is only causing even more queues for travellers.
As countries begin to be added to the green travel list it is unclear how Border Force will cope with the increase in travellers, with a source saying: “The peak hasn’t even started yet. It’s going to be total chaos by the end of the week.
“Border Crossing is falling down all the time, and when it goes down, it stays broken for days. It’s particularly vulnerable when there are higher numbers of travellers.
“I can’t see any scenario where there isn’t going to be chaos when those larger numbers of passengers who went away as soon as schools broke up begin to return to the UK in the next few days.”
Major problems have arisen after the security system was rushed in, with the database crashing “repeatedly” just months after MP’s questioned its ability to cope with a large number of travellers.
MPs from the Commons public accounts committee said in a report in March that the Home Office had “no proof that it can cope with passenger volumes that existed prior to Covid-19”.
The MPs also criticised the “staggering” cost of government IT schemes.
A Heathrow spokesman said: “Waiting times at the border have on occasion been unacceptable and we have called on the UK Government to address the problem as a matter of urgency.”
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Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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