Can airport security staff assault passengers?

Is it possible for security staff at airports to assault passengers?

This is a question that needs to be answered urgently by the UK Department of Transport. Millions of passengers travel through UK airports each year and every one of them is subjected to security searches. Every passenger who triggers the metal detector is 'body searched' which means that a security person of the same sex feels them.

How is the passenger to complain when they experience innapropriate pressure on parts of their body or fingers and other parts of the searcher being placed within their clothes?

This is a serious matter that needs immediate clarification.

How many passengers are being assaulted will never be known, but if you believe that you have been the victim of such an assault by airport security staff then you should contact your Member of Parliament and tell them immediately.

Here is how one passenger complained to London Heathrow Airport LHR about being assaulted and the response that was received from LHR London Heathrow Airport.


The letter of complaint to London Heathrow Airport LHR


The General Manager
Heathrow Airport
234 Bath Road, Hayes
Middlesex, UB3 5AP
United Kingdom
2 April 2009
Dear Sir or Madam:
Airport security and assaults
Last year my wife and I travelled through Heathrow, where we needed to change flights. My shoes triggered the alarm so I was examined by the staff. At the time I said something like ‘You are making a very thorough job of this', I cannot recall the exact words. However, whatever the words the way that I was touched, pressed, the method of search and the way that the hands and fingers of the searcher were placed within my clothes leads my to one conclusion, which is that I was assaulted. I  cannot be the only person who feels that they have been assaulted.

In a couple of months I have another similar journey to make, so I want some information beforehand.
Is it possible for airport security staff to assault members of the public whilst carrying out their search duties? By that I mean specifically have these people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person?

What should I do if I consider that I have been assaulted? Who should I ask to speak to, how do I know that my complaint will be taken seriously and that I will not be victimized? Specifically that the staff will not make sure that I miss my flight?

What measures are in place to ensure that homosexuals or lesbians are not employed in this sensitive duty where they could abuse their position and derive sexual gratification from mistreating members of the public who might not want to complain especially as they know that they will be delayed in doing so?

The North American screening method uses small hand-held metal detectors - why are these not used in the UK and more widely in Europe as this would virtually eliminate the possibility of assault, are quicker and much less stressful?
In general airport security staff are unpleasant and treat the travelling public very badly. I do not believe that the current level of prohibitions is justified or necessary. In particular I can see no good reason for asking people to remove belts or, as was the case at Heathrow, for making everyone remove their shoes after passing through the normal security.

I will look forward with interest to your comments and guidance regarding assaults.

Yours sincerely,

[name removed]


Read response from BAA Heathrow Airport LHR



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