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Border must be secured, says inspector

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Page last updated: 15th Dec 2010 - 10:12 AM

Earlier this year, security at Manchester Airport had more holes in it than a pound of Swiss cheese, according to an independent inspector for the UK Border Agency (UKBA). The inspector, John Vine, discovered two locations in which new arrivals could “walk out of the airport”, entirely ignoring customs and immigration checkpoints.

The news was a major blow for Manchester Airport, which is widely revered as a champion of novel security techniques, such as the full-body scanner and, more recently, an innovative iris-scanning device. Officials have been left pondering whether or not the security flaws have been exploited in the past, and what heinous villains could be residing illegally in the UK as a consequence of these security slips.

John Vine intimated that the UKBA knew about security problems at Manchester Airport, but had done nothing to remedy the situation. The main issue concerned “a handful” of transfer passengers, who were able to leave the airport without boarding their connecting flight (if they were so inclined). "It was considered serious enough to have been discussed (with the) Home Secretary”, Mr Vine said.

Manchester claims that its border controls were “strengthened immediately” after publication of the report, but the final document reads like a comedy of errors. Facial recognition gates, another of Manchester’s hi-tech toys, broke down five times in just one week, and even trapped a passenger in one particularly humiliating instance.

Inspectors were largely unimpressed with the Ringway hub’s reliance upon new technologies, describing the facial recognition device as unreliable. UKBA representatives in the North of England say that many of John Vine’s observations were valid, and efforts have been made to rectify the issues.

The BBC News website notes that the inspection took place between the 5th and 7th of May 2010, but the results have only just become known.

Comments - 2

1. ben foster

18th Dec 2010 - 10:00 PM

I will be going through Manchester in january with my laptop is their anything i need to know or due

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2. Dr. Bashir Mohamad

7th Feb 2011 - 11:09 PM

On 03/02/2011 I had to fly to Belfast. The Security Team did not ask me to take my belt and directed me through the security door which gave a sound. The Security Team quickly gathered and gave the orders to go inside the X ray Roon and kept me long time under screening with raised arms. I fully respect the careful security procedures which are to offer security and safety to me and others, however; the Team did not give me clear instructions to take any metal in cloth and this is not helpful. secondly despite having the sound they should have asked whether there is any metal still in my cloth like a key or belt which they did not do, indeed they were keen to send me to the X ray without hesitation simply because they are not interested in giving enough advice and doublecheck whether this unnecessary X rays can be avoided. Thirdly the way they dealt with the Xray check was unprofessional it was unnecessary and prolonged and humilliating with raiding the hands and turning and waiting until the man check carefully and he is not in a hurry. My question is whether this was necessary or whether this could be avoided. The second question is whether my colour and name are the reason behind this unprofessional way to deal with me providing I obeyed the instruction completely and trusted your Security Team and providing my career is a doctor who does angiogram to patients with angina and I receive for serving patients enough doses of X ray.
I would be most grateful if this issue can be dealt with in a responsible constructive way.

Yours Sincerely
Dr. Bashir Mohamad

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