The UK plans to phase out airport ‘IRIS recognition’ machines and will instead expand automatic passport scanning gates.
The state of the art machines, introduced just over 5 years ago, have been withdrawn at Manchester and Birmingham airports and will be pulled out of London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports after this year’s Olympic Games.
The airport suites where passport holders could register to use IRIS are now closed, the UK Border Agency confirmed. The expensive technology has proved to be unreliable.
‘Registration for IRIS is no longer available. All of our enrolment rooms at Heathrow, Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester airports are closed until further notice,’ the spokesman said.
‘IRIS is no longer available at Birmingham and Manchester airports. It is still available at Heathrow terminals one, three, four and five. IRIS will continue to be available for registered passengers at these airports until after the 2012 London Olympics,’ he added.
There are currently 385,000 passengers who are on the IRIS database including British passport holders and citizens of the European Economic Area and foreign citizens with the right to live in the UK.
There are 30 million biometric passports in circulation out of a total of 48.5 million. With four million passports being renewed a year, it is anticipated that everyone will have a machine readable documents by 2017 at the latest. Source: Expat Forum.
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