New equipment helps Greek island’s battle with illegal immigrants

Illegal immigrants will have a harder time entering Europe via the Greek Island of Samos after equipment designed to identify counterfeit documents was installed.

Foster + Freeman’s VSC400 has been installed to help stop illegal immigrants entering the island from Turkey by boat.

UK based forensic science expert Foster + Freeman supplied the VSC400 to Frontex, an independent body who coordinate border security cooperation between EU member states. Frontex organize training and support local border agencies at strategic target ports of entry where illegal immigrants could gain access into the EU.

Samos has had serious problems with illegal immigrants getting into the EU via the island. It is believed people are travelling by boats or dinghies across the 800m stretch of water that separates the island from Turkey.

Frontex were contracted by the Greek Government as the agency in charge of the operation.

Frontex have been working on this project in Samos since 2007 and will remain there until 2013 if necessary. Since the start up of the project, the number of illegal immigrants attempting to gain access into the EU via Samos has dropped by 80 per cent.

They have achieved this by screening nationalities as they enter Samos and also by increasing the detention time allowing them to carry out a detailed assessment into the illegal immigrants identity. Once this is established they are then transported up to Athens where they are deported back to their originating countries.

The VSC400 can identify counterfeit documents in a matter of seconds. It can check for the majority of security features commonly used to prevent documents from being forged, such as watermarks, holograms, retro-reflective images, UV- activated features, anti-Stokes features, ICAO coded data, and invisibly embedded data.

The VSC400 will be used for workshops run by Frontex and was supplied to their headquarters in Warsaw, Poland. The workshops aim to deliver advanced training on questioned document techniques to experienced document examiners from member states in the EU. They are also creating a document reference database that will be issued to all member states in the EU.

Bob Freeman, founding partner of Foster + Freeman which is based in Evesham, Worcestershire, UK, said: “The VSC400 is a ‘state of the art’ system, designed specifically for the detailed examination of passports as well as other forms of identification and we are extremely pleased to be working with Frontex on improving the security of the European Union against terrorists and other illegal immigrants.”

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