View Full Version : Heathrow security - not

16th Oct 2001, 07:55
From today's Times -

Security failures put Heathrow at risk

STAFF at Britain's biggest airport security company are being allowed to work in highly sensitive posts at Heathrow airport without security clearance, The Times has discovered.

As security is stepped up at airports across the world, responsibility for searching passengers, screening luggage and searching aircraft at Heathrow is being handed to individuals whose backgrounds have not been fully checked.

This week at least 38 security guards due to work at the airport for Securicor ADI will not have been vetted.

The company appointed one man from Afghanistan to a sensitive position at Heathrow without waiting for a security check to be completed.

Securicor's US subsidiary was prosecuted last year for recruiting criminals as airport security guards, and was last week accused of employing convicted felons at airports where the September 11 hijackers started their flights.

Last night senior MPs called for an urgent inquiry and an immediate change to regulations governing airport security staff.

Securicor ADI, which has security contracts at airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester, admitted that it had placed staff in key jobs before they had passed a compulsory government counter-terrorist check (CTC).

The company explained that it was not breaching any rules as long as those staff were being supervised by someone with CTC clearance.

Checks on British job applicants can be quickly completed, but CTC vetting of people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and North Africa can take up to nine months.

Applicants from these countries are being allowed to take up their 4.45-an-hour posts before the inquiries are completed.

Theresa May, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, said: "This makes a mockery of airport security. It is vital that this loophole is closed. The Government should investigate this lapse in security as a matter of urgency."

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesman, said that he was "amazed" that those without full clearance could work at airports, and called for an immediate inquiry.

Mr Foster said: "For a security company to employpeople in sensitive areas at Heathrow pending securityclearance before September 11 is worrying. AfterSeptember 11 it is intolerable. Every employee has got
to have those checks in place."

Andrew Bennett, the Labour MP who chairs the Transport Select Committee, said he was "appalled" by the disclosures.

At Heathrow, dozens of security workers are screening baggage, searching passengers, searching and guarding aircraft and even transporting weapons, with no
guarantee that they have no terrorist links.

One worker with no CTC clearance was part of a team that searched passengers as they boarded Tony Blair's chartered British Airways jet before the Prime Minister flew to the Middle East last week on a diplomatic mission to shore up the international coalition against terrorism.

Another Securicor ADI employee who has no CTC clearance is alleged to have been left alone for several hours last week with baggage that had been checked in by first-class and business-class British Airways passengers before it was placed in an aircraft's hold. The company denies this.

Unlike Securicor ADI, security staff at BAA, which is responsible for screening passengers and their hand baggage, have all received counterterrorism clearance.

The Air Transport Users' Council described the loophole as "deeply worrying" yesterday and called on the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR), which is responsible for airport security, to conduct a thorough investigation.

The DTLR, which is carrying out a review of aviation security in Britain, promised to establish how staff without CTC clearance were being employed by Securicor ADI. A Downing Street spokesman last night said: "We have one of the tightest regimes for airport security of any country in the world, but at all times we are looking to see how we can strengthen that. We are in constant dialogue with security companies and we
will close any gaps that come up."

A senior government source added: "If the suggestion is that people are unsupervised, that should not be happening. Any information that this is happening will be treated very seriously and looked into immediately."

He added that airport security was placed under constant review after September 11 and that Stephen Byers, the Transport Secretary, was consulting European ministers on security at a conference in Luxemburg today.

Three of the security company's employees said last night that they had grown increasingly concerned about the safety of passengers and air crews. "There's no way I'd risk getting on a plane from Heathrow right now and I wouldn't let any of my family," one said.

Securicor ADI is the largest provider of aviationsecurity in the world. It operates at 19 of the UK's 24biggest airports, employing 6,000 staff.

Mike Rutter, the company's marketing director, initially insisted to The Times that no employee was allowed to work in sensitive British airport zones - known as "airside" - before passing a CTC. "Only when that background check is completed are they allowed to work in secure or sterile areas," he said.

Yet subsequent inquiries made it clear that that 29 Securicor ADI staff without CTC clearance were scheduled to work in secure or sterile areas of Heathrow last Sunday, on a British Airways contract, without any counter-terrorism clearance. In total 38 security staff with no CTC clearance were rostered to work shifts this week on just one of the several contracts that Securicor ADI holds at Heathrow.

While Securicor ADI maintains that all staff without CTC clearance are carefully supervised, some employees say that staff without CTC clearance are regularly left alone while airside, and that it is impossible for them to be continuously supervised throughout their shifts.

In addition to its BA contracts the company also handles hold baggage screening for every airline flying from Heathrow with the exception of El Al. Securicor ADI also carries out a wide range of security procedures for BA.

A BA spokesman said: "We take reports of possible breaches of security clearance extremely seriously and we will look into any specific examples that can be provided."

TAT Probe
16th Oct 2001, 21:28
This is not just an idle concern. A recent hijacking in the Middle East, which ended up in Baghdad, was actually carried out by airport security employees who had used their familiarity with the other security staff as a way to get weapons aboard an aircraft.

This story in the Times is truly frightening, and someone's balls should be on the anvil! :eek:

17th Oct 2001, 19:31
You know what they say,


20th Oct 2001, 11:51
Perhaps not entirely on the subject, but I have noticed the incresed security since 11 Sept already beginning to slacken off. In Brisbane two weeks ago I watched a passenger (male, scruffy and in my opinion, worthy of close inspection)walk through the 'magnetic archway' and set off the alarm.
"Please empty your pockets." says the security guard,
The pax complies, walks through the archway again, more alarms.
"Its my steel capped boots" says the pax.
"O.K." says the security guard.
and the pax goes on through.
Since I was next in line (and in Uniform - Captain), I raised this with the security guard immediately.
"Look mate, you do your f***ing job and I'll do mine" was the guards reply.
After finding that no superior was available to take this matter any further and making sure that the pax in question was not on my flight, I "..got on with my f***ing job" and filed a report with the company and the airport. I also operated a flight.