Passengers to be fingerprinted at UK airport departure lounges

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London, July 28 : All passengers flying to and from British airports will be fingerprinted from next year. According to The Telegraph, the Home Office's Border and Immigration Agency has confirmed that it is considering forcing airport operators to introduce this measure to increase security.

It is concerned that so-called 'common departure lounges' could allow an incoming international passenger - possibly a terrorist or a criminal - to switch tickets with an accomplice booked on a domestic flight.

The international passenger would then be able to fly elsewhere in Britain and enter the country without being checked by immigration authorities.

Among the airports that have departure lounges accessible to domestic and international passengers are Heathrow's Terminal One and Five, Gatwick and Manchester.

BAA, which operates seven UK airports, is keen to see the arrangement extended as it allows all passengers access to airside shopping malls, including its own chain of World Duty Free stores.

But the introduction of fingerprinting faces fierce opposition from the Information Commissioner, Britain's privacy watchdog.

It forced Heathrow to abandon similar plans earlier this year, claiming they are illegal under data protection laws.

A UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman stressed the proposals would not apply to all terminals but added: "If airports mix domestic and international passengers then we will consider requiring fingerprint checks to maintain security.

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