Public Security Blog
No qualms about risk profiling..
Around six months ago there was a spate of press stories about pensioners being asked for their ID when buying a bottle of wine in their local supermarket. The supermarkets in question had a policy of blanket identification and, although anyone with common sense could tell that these customers were at least forty years over the legal age for buying alcohol, they were treated in the same way as a sixteen year-old. As a result, the supermarket looked ridiculous, insensitive and inefficient.
Yet, the UK has adopted a similar unwieldy approach for its border controls. Long delays have become the norm and we are still no more efficient at identifying illegal immigrants or high-risk individuals.
Risk profiling offers a viable alternative to traditional security techniques. However there is opposition to this method, mainly by those who have not taken the time to understand the concept, and believe it to be akin to racial profiling which is not only incorrect, but is nothing more than scare mongering. Risk profiling employs complex algorithms and advanced risk management, intelligence, data analytics and behavioural modelling to evaluate each individual and presents a far more logical and less subjective approach than blanket checks. Risk profiling is about assessing risk objectively.
This profiling is increasingly being deployed around the world. But, when a pilot scheme was carried out in the UK, media attention focused only on the public spat between home secretary Theresa May and Brodie Clark, former head of the UK border force. It ignored the fact that the scheme was more successful in detecting illegal immigrants and other high risk individuals trying to enter the country.
“The pilot was about changing the way we checked people from Europe and refusals from this group actually went up 33 per cent in this period. We were getting regular information from (the pilot scheme) management about what was happening and there was a 48 per cent increase in fraudulent documents detected and cocaine seizures and illegal firearms seizures were up too,” reported immigration minister, Damian Green.
This evidence, alongside the experience of the pilot scheme, should reassure the critics. Ultimately, it’s a common sense approach backed by advanced mathematics, behavioural psychology, risk management and current intelligence. With more than 125 million passengers entering the UK a year, it seems doubtful we can ignore it much longer.