§ Lord Avebury
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What instructions have been given to the Immigration Service Intelligence Unit about the criteria to be followed in deciding whether to include the name and other details relating to a person on their Prime 550 minicomputer, and in particular, what precautions are taken to ensure that persons who are not suspected of any breach of the immigration rules are recorded there; how many names are stored in this computer's records, and what proportion of the persons whose names are stored belong to ethnic minorities; what other information is recorded on the computer in respect of those persons; who has access to the computer other than officers of the ISIU, and in the case of each group, what means of access is employed, and in particular, what means of access is employed by police officers of the Central Illegal Immigration Intelligence Unit and by police officers of local forces respectively, and what links are either in existence or planned for linking this computer to any other Government or police computers, and if so what.
§ Lord Elton
Personal particulars are entered in the Immigration Service Intelligence Unit computer either because the persons concerned fall within certain clearly defined categories (e.g. they have been refused leave to enter, refused entry clearance or, in certain cases, have been deported from the United Kingdom) or because they are considered to be involved in abuse or attempted abuse of the immigration laws. Before any particulars are entered on the computer, they are carefully checked with a view to ensuring that they are accurate and, where information has been received from individuals, that it has not been furnished maliciously.
The index contains approximately 300,000 names. The record will include, where available, other personal details such as nationality, date of birth and address and, where appropriate, one (or more) of the clearly defined categories within which the person is considered to fall. No other text is included in the computer. The records are not categorised in terms of ethnic origin.
Access to the computer is restricted to staff of the Immigration Service. As a normal part of their duties they will meet requests for information made by entry clearance officers abroad and other staff of the Immigration and Nationality Department (IND) since these form part of the same system of immigration control. They may on occasions supply information to other bodies such as HM Customs and police (including staff of the Central Drugs and Illegal Immigration Intelligence Unit) who are investigating possible criminal offences.
The equipment is not linked with any other Government or police computer. The possibility of a link in time with other IND computers is being studied; that apart, there are no plans for such links.