Whose luggage is it anyway?

2254907684_b109abfecc_bBorder officials at one of Britain’s busiest airports could have conducted illegal searches of luggage without passengers’ knowledge, according to a report published today.

Border Force staff seized 1,147 pieces of luggage as a result of secret baggage searches at Birmingham Airport in the year to September, however serious concerns about whether the powers are being used proportionately

The report by Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration John Vine, found that staff at Birmingham Airport were not keeping records of how many times they searched luggage and no contraband was found.  Guidance to staff was “contradictory and out of date” and managers admitted there had been no checks made to ensure correct procedures were being followed when bags were being searched to protect people’s privacy.

Security on aircraft is clearly important, however, people shouldn’t be afraid that their luggage will be searched on spurious grounds or at random. People can’t challenge these searches if they don’t even know they’re going on.

The glaring absence of any detail about how these powers have been used leaves open a number of troubling questions, particularly how many people’s luggage was searched without anything being found.

Unfortunately this is another case of the public’s confidence in oversight of invasive powers being undermined because of the huge holes in the data being collected by the authorities. People will rightly question whether as a result staff are able to abuse their right to open luggage with impunity.



Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in Civil Liberties, Police | 6 Comments


  1. Jack
    28th February 2013

    In these days of all manner of criminal activity, why would anyone be bothered that their luggage has been searched?

    • John Galt
      1st March 2013

      Because strangely enough, I don’t remember any MP putting this legislation to the electorate. Stickler and old fashioned that I am, I would like to be asked whether or not I would like to live in a police state rather than have it forced upon me.

      In the bad old days, on a return trip from Malta, I had my case opened and items stolen by someone with access to baggage (customs, baggage handlers, police, airport staff, etc.) and then redirected to Munich to leave a blind trail.

      This is why I travel with locked luggage and refuse to have one of those TSA locks installed. They’d have to break open my luggage and destroy everything inside to confirm that I had nothing to steal.

      Bar Stewards!

    • anon
      1st March 2013

      Because in these days of criminal activity I do not trust those doing the searching to be as honest as they should be.

  2. David
    1st March 2013

    Since you bigot admins DON’T CARE about tip offs here’s the info for everyone to read right here!

    BT has joined the group of organisations, mostly from the US, lobbying to have EU proposals on privacy watered down, TechWeekEurope has found out. The lobbying is apparently proviing effective, as MEPs have been accused of pandering to lobbyists’ concerns.

    A host of US companies, including Amazon, eBay, Facebook and Yahoo, have been huckstering with EU officials, as they seek to amend the draft Data Protection Regulation and Directive outlined by the European Commission last year. An EC official told TechWeek last year that “extreme” US attempts to radically alter the laws were being resisted.

    Get a grip, mods.