Gibraltar border row heats up as Spain tests new control system to track citizens of Rock

The pilot control system has been confirmed by police sources who are in charge of such tasks, but the Spanish Ministry of the Interior are yet to officially report that the new systems are in place. The system will reportedly be situated at the border crossing between La Linea and Gibraltar, and is the first technological system to be used in the country for border inspections.

Sources told Area Campo de Gibraltar that the new system will be able to provide double control to those at the border, with the biometric system able to recognise people as well as police supervision supporting these checks.

The biometric system is thought to contain technology which allows for facial, fingerprint and document recognition to identify any individual.

The system also is advanced when it comes to vehicles, with a new tablet being tested which scan fingerprints and passports, while also being able to identify individuals on board any vehicle.

At present, the system is being tested on a random basis but will become mandatory in 2022 if the EU-UK treaty on GiBrexit fails to arrive before that time.

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The borders are well-equipped for this change as the machines currently in place have already been adapted to allow for more modern and effective controls.

The updated equipment already allows for facial recognition at the border, as well as digital finger recognition and the ability to scan passports or ID cards.

This system is due to be updated in the weeks and months to follow to ensure the transition into the new control system is as seamless as possible.

The system, particularly inside the border police station, has also been updated to focus on pedestrians.

Passengers are now able to go to four new areas which are able to control the flow of people coming into the border.

At this point, the documentation which is provided by any passenger or individual at the border is looked at by a police officer to ensure that there are no issues with entry.

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There have been some fears expressed by workers who work at the border between the two countries, with the main concern being there could be significant queues and, in turn, significant delays to arriving at work.

But the Spanish Government have already had past experience with these biometric systems at borders.

There had been biometric readers implemented at the border in 2015 which had been used until around six months ago, being replaced by a ‘smart border’ which cost 1.4 million euros.

In December 2020, the Government put forward a new place to look at what more could be done at the entry and exit points at the border.

From this, the Council of Ministers came to an agreement that there would be an emergency declaration to contract both supplies and action to get the new border system in place as soon as possible.

The new systems will come into effect once the work has been completed, with the work budget being estimated to be around 5.6 million euros.

Around half of the 5.6 million euros is said to be going towards the control systems themselves, which have replaced the withdrawn systems.

There is currently an agreement between Spain and the United Kingdom which allows for an extension to the memorandums of understanding at the border crossing.

This means that until GiBrexit comes into force, the Government will continue to facilitate the borders to ensure that workers can continue to travel to their jobs cross-border.

It is estimated that there are around 14,000 Spanish workers who cross the border gate each day to travel to their work which is based in Gibraltar. contacted the Spanish and Gibralter Government for comment.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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