Crimmigration control technologies

Just as crime control is a motor for technological innovation (Bowling, Marks, and Murphy 2008), the migration control industry is also driving the development of scientific endeavour, product design, and manufacturing. Technology in both spheres can be described as a ‘force enabler’ increasing the capacity for social control (Bowling, Marks, and Murphy 2008). Defensive technologies such as fences—sometimes extending for thousands of miles—fortified with razor wire and electricity define and defend borders and fortify border posts and detention centres. Border control increasingly draws upon military force including battlefield weapons and the full panoply of military forces on land and sea. New hybrid forces such as FRONTEX (the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union) with militarized Rapid Border Intervention Teams (RABIT) operating at Europe’s Southern border is just one example of a global trend.

Information communication technologies are also deployed here and include databases of visa applicants, lost and stolen travel documents, mobile fingerprint devices, and so on. Information is collected through human intelligence sources such as the deployment of secret intelligence agents overseas, the posting of immigration liaison officers in foreign embassies and airports, and the cultivation of informers in source and transit countries (Bowling 2010; Bowling and Sheptycki 2012). Information is increasingly shared transnationally. Contemporary border information systems, such as the UK’s e-borders, collects arrivals and departure information, while carriers provide advance passenger records electronically. The names, dates of birth, nationality, and travel document details are then checked against multi-agency watch-lists before boarding. According to the UK government, the intention is to create a clearer picture of passenger movements in and out of countries: ‘[t]his wealth of information will help border control, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and other Government departments to target their activity.’

One example of a strategic immigration and border security initiative can be found in ‘The Five Country Conference’, comprised of the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand, which aims to prevent identity fraud, ensure economic prosperity and enhance border security, protect public safety, and provide protection against ‘violent foreign criminals’. In 2009, the five governments signed a joint agreement to enable biometric data sharing for immigration purposes. This ‘high value data sharing protocol’ allows countries to share fingerprint records for matching against immigration databases in all of the other countries. Where matches are found, officers share biographical information on a bilateral basis. Databases of criminal records including fingerprints, DNA, travel documents, and details of deported aliens have been created across law enforcement agencies, immigration, and prisons (Aas, Chapter 1 in this volume). In this context, prisons have become ‘a site of information gathering on what is otherwise a transient, fragmented population’ (Bosworth 2008: 210).

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