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Volume 547: debated on Thursday 28 June 2012


Thursday 28 June 2012


Home Department

Biometric Centre, Leicester

The Petition of residents of Leicester,

Declares that the Petitioners believe that there are inadequate facilities for foreign nationals wishing to register biometric data for the purposes of residence permits in Leicester, with the nearest facilities located in Beeston, Nottingham or Derby.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to consider establishing a centre for the registration of biometric data in Leicester.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Keith Vaz, Official Report, 26 April 2012; Vol. 543, c. 1208 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for the Home Department:

The Government are aware that there is no biometric enrolment provision in the Leicester city area.

Post Office Ltd was awarded the contract to provide this facility for foreign nationals needing to enrol and is doing so through a national network of 104 branches.

In accordance with security requirements, sites selected for enrolment have been limited to Crown Post Offices, which are offices directly managed by Post Office Ltd As there are no Crown Post Offices in Leicester or Leicestershire, no locations were identified for roll out of biometric enrolment in the city or immediate area.

However, the Government have recognised the exceptional demand for a biometric enrolment site in this area and have been working with Post Office Ltd to explore possible alternatives for biometric enrolment in Leicester.

The Government are pleased to advise that the UK Border Agency and Post Office Ltd have identified a favourable site in Leicester city centre. We intend to begin enrolment of biometrics at this site September 2012.

We do not expect to make similar arrangements in other locations unless there is extremely high demand.

The Government maintain that there are viable alternatives for enrolment whilst we make arrangements to establish the site in Leicester. If travelling by train or coach, Beeston, Derby or Kettering fall within 30 minutes travel, with an off-peak return ticket priced at around £10. Depending on which part of the county an applicant lives, the Nottingham and the Birmingham sites may also be convenient. Any individual physically unable to travel can apply for the mobile enrolment facility and be enrolled at home or other suitable location.

There is no need to book an appointment at Post Office Ltd sites, so an applicant can choose to attend at a day and time most convenient to them within branch opening hours, including Saturdays.

The Government are aware that as a designated asylum support dispersal area there are many refugees living in Leicester. We want to reassure all applicants who do not pay for their application to remain in the UK, including asylum seekers, that Post Office Ltd will not charge to enrol their biometric features at a Post Office.

In the vast majority of cases, the UK Border Agency will meet reasonable travel costs for applicants in non-charged categories. The Agency will also supply travel tickets to supported asylum seekers living at least three miles from the Post Office they are required to attend.