Britain launched exit checks on passports at borders from Wednesday, saying the move would help to fight illegal immigration and track the movements of suspected terrorists.
“Exit checks will provide us with vital information that confirms a person’s exit from the UK,” said James Brokenshire, minister for security and immigration.
The checks are “predominately an immigration and data tool” but will “improve national security by helping the police and security services track the movements of known or suspected criminals and terrorists,” the government said.
Critics of the new checks, which will be phased in over two months, have warned that they could cause delays at some ports, rail terminals and airports.
The government says gradual introduction will ensure that border staff have time to implement them while minimizing disruption.
About 25 per cent of passports will be checked in the first month, rising to 100 per cent by mid-June.
The move follows a series of highly publicized cases in which British citizens, including several teenagers, left the country intending to fight for or against the Islamic State group in Syria.