UK immigration database error impacts thousands

The error has caused difficulties for individuals in proving their right to work, rent housing, and access medical treatment.

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A significant database error in the UK’s immigration system has caused turmoil for over 76,000 individuals, intertwining their biometric and biographical data and leaving many unable to prove their right to work, rent housing, or access state-funded medical treatment.

Operated by the UK Home Office, the Person Centric Data Platform (PCDP) contains records for 177 million immigrants, including identity documents and biometric information. However, internal documents reveal instances of ‘merged identities’, resulting in incorrect listings of names, photographs, or immigration status, leading to processing delays, border queues, and faulty identity cards.

Despite assurances from the Home Office that there’s no systemic issue with Atlas, the computer system tool linked to PCDP, leaked documents indicate a longstanding problem with merged identities. In response, the department has initiated a dedicated team to tackle the issue and introduced a tool to flag potential merged identities. This tool has identified over 38,000 errors, although the Home Office maintains these errors impact only 0.02% of the database’s population.

Why does it matter?

UK faces potential delays and complications with its planned Entry/Exit System (EES), requiring residents from non-EU and non-Schengen countries, including the UK, to register facial and fingerprint biometrics. Expected to launch across the Schengen Area soon, concerns mount over the readiness of the accompanying mobile application for pre-registration.

While the European Commission promises the app’s readiness by the EES launch, trade organisations fear a delay, estimating a more plausible launch date in France around the summer of 2025. Such delays raise worries among logistics and shipping companies, fearing disruptions at Dover port and the broader UK supply chain.