40-year old Lithuanian man was prevented from crossing the border at Gatwick Airport earlier this month after a hi-tech security scanner identified him as a convicted drug smuggler.
The device, which is called eBorders, is capable of checking the passport of a traveller against a criminal and terrorist ‘watch list’, helping security officials capture crooks before they enter the country.
The man, who had just arrived from the city of Vilnius in south-eastern Lithuania, held a previous conviction for a cocaine trafficking offence in 1998. He was eventually deported from the UK four years later.
The government made sweeping changes to airport security over the next eight years, and in 2009 his details were transferred to the National Border Targeting Centre (NBTC).
Despite its relatively young age, the NBTC is an integral part of eBorders, checking more than 250 million passenger movements per year. The information collected by eBorders is quickly sent to the NBTC to be filtered.
Innocent citizens are allowed to pass through security freely, but villains are immediately apprehended by border officials.
The eBorders system has helped police catch 5,400 dangerous criminals since it was introduced.
Gatwick boss Nick Crouch was impressed with eBorders. He said the fact that they could identify a convicted drug smuggler before he could enter the country "clearly demonstrates the value of eBorders".
He added that it would help them to "capture known criminals, while gathering evidence against smugglers and people traffickers".
The eBorders device also incorporates facial recognition software.
The Home Office does not expect eBorders to become a cornerstone of airport security until 2014.