Thousands of British immigration officers have now been trained to spot counterfeit documents in a worldwide interactive e-learning scheme designed to beat forgers.
The 25,000 UK Border Agency officers working in 135 countries are being trained by e-learning courses for the moment of truth, when they are faced by a passport or a vital document and must make a snap decision on whether the document looks suspicious.
Agency staff, often working in remote locations in third world countries, had previously learned their document skills from other officers, on a personal peer-to-peer system that had been overwhelmed by demand in countries like Nigeria, Malaysia and India.
So-called ‘champions’ of the Selected Points Based System for immigration to the United Kingdom were often flown to Britain for training and then expected to fly back to train their colleagues.
Epic, Britain’s leading provider of bespoke e-learning, designed a programme to break the training logjam. It is based on ‘problem-based learning’ and uses interactive computer screens to allow learners to take their own time in making a decision.
After being initially urged to ‘look at the faces’. The learners are given a series of questions. Is the person presenting this passport its rightful owner? Does this document look counterfeit when examined under differing types of lighting?
Teachers can monitor progress at long range through the learning management system [LMS].
‘A click of the mouse shows how seemingly genuine documents appear very different in diverse lighting conditions. The final assessment is a real test of
learning, where users scrutinise the documents to decide which ones are fraudulent.’
Epic, based in Brighton, are e-learning contractors for the British Home Office, the Royal Mail, Standard Life and Visa International.
In February 2010, it was revealed in an answer to a parliamentary question that all the permanent UKBA staff are now required to complete a course in ‘diversity e-learning’.
The firm say the UK Borders Agency document fraud programme was well received and raised ‘awareness of document abuse’.
‘Within two months of release, 623 users had successfully completed the programme, including staff working in all the areas of the Agency, not just the caseworkers at whom it was initially aimed.’