Frontex, applying the latest systems to combat document forgery

The European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex, 2004) helps member states of the EU and associate countries of the Schengen Area to administer their exterior borders and contribute to harmonise border controls between European Union countries. The Agency facilitates cooperation between the border authorities of each EU country, offering technical support and experience.

According to the EU commission on the application of the action plan to strengthen the European Union response to travel documentation, a technical report has been being prepared since April 2018 about norms for inspection systems. To support this activity, Frontex is developing a methodology to assess and analyse the performance of document inspection systems.

A key achievement is the increase in operative support from the Centre of Excellence of Frontex against the falsifying of documents, in operation since February 2018. This centre sends personnel from Frontex to in situ operations on external borders, collaborates with the exchange of information regarding document forgery and expects to create a Forgery Office to provide permanent technical and operative support for the control of documents. Moreover, it manages the Group of Experts in Document Control, with the aim of coordinating the general support given to state members for the detection of forged documents, and work in close collaboration with the horizontal group of experts in forged documents, created within the framework in the EU 2018-2021 actions cycle to break up organised crime networks involved in trafficking false and forged documents. The Centre is completing a new proposal for a normalised alerts format.

Furthermore, regarding improvements to the gathering of data concerning phenomena related to the forging of documents, Frontex maintains the Network for the analysis of risks of document forgery in the European Union -EDF-RAN – and gathers information about identities and false documents detected on external borders and movements within the Schengen/EU area.

Concerning the promotion of training activities in new areas related to document forgery, Frontex, in association with the Centre of Identification of the Eindhoven Academy (Netherlands), developed a pilot course about the recognition of identity that includes references to the management of identity, the technology of microcircuits, biometrics and the means of detection of digital fraud.

The main task of the Centre of Excellence of Frontex is to support the fight against document forgery in joint operations. The Centre of Excellence of Frontex created a new proposal in 2018 concerning the creation of a normalised alert format. Now Frontex has developed a reference manual for border guards that contains images of passports, identity cards and visas, to help to determine if the document presented is genuine or not.

On 25th March 2019 some workshops called ‘Frontex Document Olympics’ took place with experts in documentation from all over Europe participating in the first Frontex Olympic Games. The Olympics involved finding the largest amount of forged documentation per minute: participating in a pair of scenarios, including the verification of travel documents in an airport and other types of support given to irregular immigrants (like birth or marriage certificates) at a public entry point.


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