UK-Border-Agency-006

Police will be exercising tighter controls over those with unpaid bills attempting to travel overseas, it has been revealed.

New legislation and tighter border controls are currently being used to identify those with outstanding TV license fees and council tax bills when they get to the airport.

Its remit could also be extended to other debts.

The UK Government’s E-Borders initiative and the Immigration Act 2014 make it easier for police and third parties to share information and carry out more in-depth checks on those going on holiday or attempting to leave Britain.

This was confirmed by the Head of Border Policing Command, Detective Superintendent Alan Crawford, who said: “There are information sharing protocols in place and we continue to work closely with our partners in law enforcement.

“We will always take action against those who have outstanding fines and/or warrants, and those who travel through our airports and seaports will undoubtedly interact with police and law enforcement as part of their journey.

“I would urge anyone who is currently subject to an outstanding fine or warrant and preparing to embark on a trip to address the matter urgently to ensure you are not inconvenienced and can fully enjoy your break.”

This new directive is currently being piloted in Scotland. Police Scotland have refused to confirm the number of people who have been caught out under these new measurements.

Anyone found guilty of evading the licence fee is given a criminal record and can be fined up to £1,000. People who fail to pay the fine will be jailed.

The Government’s E-Borders initiative was designed to track and monitor terrorists. However, like most anti-terrorism laws and directives, it is now being applied to the general population.

Its remit has also been extended to those who do not pay their TV licence. In Scotland, around 80 per cent of travellers are currently being monitored.

However, the UK Government plans to introduce blanket exit checks and wants this introduced by spring.

A spokesman for the Government said: “The police and immigration officers are jointly working to ensure the law is carried out to the letter. The Immigration Act 2014 requires transport carriers to collect passengers’ personal information and provide this to immigration and law enforcement authorities in advance of travel.

“Staff in the National Border Targeting Centre use this record of travellers passing through UK ports to conduct security checks on travellers, in order to identify persons of interest to the immigration authorities and police.”

Currently, those in Scotland who have refused to pay their fines or turn up in court are being prevented from leaving the country.

Border agency staff are tackling those with unpaid bills who are trying to exit the country and presenting them with their debts to be paid upfront.

If they refuse, they will be arrested.

An Insider for Glasgow Airport said in an interview with the Sunday Post: “Glasgow Airport is already rolling out the initiative.

“Police Scotland has detained a number of people who were planning to exit the country who have had warrants issued for non-payment of their TV licences and council tax. If a fine is outstanding, they are given an opportunity to pay it or they are arrested and prevented from leaving the country.”

Last year, around 200,000 were prosecuted for failing to pay their TV licence.

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