Gatwick airport unveils a new generation of biometric gates.
18 December 2013 12:55 GMT

New gates replace those installed in June 2011

London Gatwick has officially opened the its new generation of ePassport gates using facial recognition.

UK Immigration Minister Mark Harper said ePassport gates have proved popular with travellers. More than 10 million passengers have used them across the UK in the past year with numbers now operating at 1 million a month.

London Gatwick now has the largest single bank of ePassport gates at any port in the UK. The latest installation totalled 15 gates, according to supplier Vision-Box, of Portugal.

Harper said: "Keeping the UK’s border secure is our priority. At the same time we want to welcome legitimate visitors and trade which contributes to the UK economy. Using the latest technology helps us to do both and is popular with passengers. The e-Passport gates here at London Gatwick Airport provide both a fast and convenient way for tourists, business visitors and Britons returning home to pass through the border securely."

The launch was also attended by Stewart Wingate, CEO of Gatwick Airport Ltd. He said: "Gatwick is delighted to be the first airport in the UK to offer this innovative new technology. It will make the journey of arriving passengers with chipped passports much more efficient."

ePassport gates first went live in UK airports at Manchester Airport in 2008. This bank of gates replaces the first generation which were opened at London Gatwick South in June 2011.

The gates which can be used by anyone with a UK or European ‘chipped’ passport who is aged 18 or over, use facial recognition technology to compare the passenger’s face to the digital image recorded in their passport. Their details are then automatically checked against Border Force systems and watchlists. Once the checks are made, the gates open automatically to allow the passenger through the border.

The system is monitored by Border Force officers and anyone rejected by the gates will be sent to an alternative channel to have their passport checked.

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