Can airport security staff assault passengers? - part - 5
Thursday, 28 May 2009 00:00

This letter is one of a series that make up an exchange between a transfer passenger passing through London Heathrow Airport LHR and the BAA, operator of the airport.

Index of the exchange

The passenger complaint is that he was assaulted by security staff during screening. The airport refuses to admit that this is possible and remains in denial. The way in which legitimate concerns are brushes aside without any reference can only be described as breathtaking.

Here is what the passenger said . . .


11 May 2009
Dear [name removed]:
Feedback reference XXXXXXXFeedback reference 1083336


Thank you for your letter dated 16 April 2009, further travel has prevented me from responding before now.
I appreciate the time you have taken to respond to my letter the conciliatory tone of you letter. Regrettably I do not feel that my legitimate concerns have been answered. For reference I have set out my questions and your responses which follow this page.
Further internet-based research has shown that I am not alone in my concerns and that retaliatory behaviour by airport screeners is taking place. The evidence suggests such behaviour is more prevalent in the US, this assertion is confirmed by my experience. However, I have also seen it in Europe.
Large numbers of passengers pass through LHR and in my opinion it is inconceivable that there are no abuses taking place.
You say in your letter ‘ . . . the security regulations in place at Heathrow are administered by the Department for Transport . . .' can you please provide me with the name and reference of these regulations and the name of the Act of Parliament that gives them force or the legal instrument or order that gives them force.
Please confirm that the actual regulations are secret and the public has no access to them.
Please confirm that passengers are only ever asked to do things that are contained within these regulations and that passengers and others are never asked to do anything that is not explicitly stated in the regulations.
I wish to complain further and request that you tell me what organisations or regulators both governmental or otherwise are available for aggrieved travelers to contact.

Question to Heathrow airport Answer from Heathrow airport
Is it possible for airport security staff to assault members of the public whilst carrying out their search duties?    
have these [security screeners] people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person?
None yet
have these [security screeners] people been granted some special immunity from prosecution for acts which would normally be regarded as serious assaults upon the person? None yet
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 ‘Pleased by assured if you fell that a member of out team has been rude or has physically harmed you, that our operations managers will take this very seriously.'
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? None yet
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? None yet
. . . I would like a written statement explaining exactly what your airport management define as a verbal assault and a physical assault on a member of staff . . . None yet
. . . can you please provide me with the name and reference of these regulations and the name of the Act of Parliament that gives them force or the legal instrument or order that gives them force. None yet
Please confirm that the actual regulations are secret and the public has no access to them. None yet
Please confirm that passengers are only ever asked to do things that are contained within these regulations and that passengers and others are never asked to do anything that is not explicitly stated in the regulations. None yet
I wish to complain further and request that you tell me what organisations or regulators both governmental or otherwise are available for aggrieved travelers to contact. None yet



Yours sincerely,


[name removed]


Read the response from LHR, London Heathrow Airport

Index listing of the original complain and full exchange of letters

This sequence of letters suggests that Heathrow airport does not treat passenger complains seriously;

Read the original complaint



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