Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted from TRANSEC (10 May 2002)

Q855—Documentation on screening and vetting of air cargo personnel

  Under statutory directions to airlines and security approved air cargo agents, staff recruited for the purpose of receiving or handling air cargo must meet the criteria spelt out by the Department. These require that there should be a reference check giving full details of applicants' education, training and employment over the last five years, or since they reached the age of 15, whichever is the shorter. At interview, each applicant is made aware of the full implications of the reference check. After the interview, confirmation is sought from previous employers, educational establishments etc that the references given by the applicant are accurate and there is nothing in their experience which suggests that the applicant may be unsuitable for their suitability for security duties.

  A decision on whether to employ the applicant is made by a senior executive within the employer's organisation. In making such a decision, full account must be taken of the information obtained in the verification process and for any periods for which it had not been possible to obtain complete verification.

  It is a statutory requirement that all staff recruited on air cargo security duties should receive appropriate training from an organisation approved by the Department to deliver such training.

  On Friday, 3 May 2002, a new statutory direction on airlines and security approved air cargo agents, among others, came into effect, replacing an earlier direction. The main features of this direction are to set out the types of identity documents to be checked and a tightening of the verification process for all security staff.

Q863—Details of UK compliance with Chicago Convention and ECAC measures since 11 September

  The UK is in full compliance with ECAC requirements. There is one part of one ICAO security standard with which the UK is not totally compliant, relating to segregation of arriving and departing passengers. Two UK airports are not fully compliant with this requirement. There are compensatory measures in place to manage the resulting risk and good progress is being made to introduce physical segregation.

  The UK is also not compliant with a new ICAO standard relating to the issue of aircrew documentation. This is primarily a flight crew licensing issue in Annex 9 of the Chicago Convention, but has been copied across to Annex 17 (Security). The standard requires aircrew certificates to be issued by contracting states, whereas in the UK they are issued by the airlines. DTLR and CAA are discussing how best to achieve compliance. It should be noted, however, that unlike the majority of other countries all aircrew entering Restricted Zones at UK airports are subject to the same level of security screening as departing passengers.

Q873—Observations on the Two incidents raised by Mr Hancock (The one in Washington took place on 8 February 2002. The flight was BA216)

  Mr Hancock described two incidents when flying back to the UK from foreign airports, which had caused him concern. The first was with British Airways in Washington, the second with Turkish Airlines in Istanbul. In both instances his main concerns related to the implications for proper reconciliation of passengers and baggage.

  Aviation security is governed by international law, set down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), under which each country is responsible for the security arrangements of aircraft flying from its state. Therefore, we set down the national aviation security programme for UK airports and all aircraft operating from UK airports, and other states do the same for their territories. By operating within the internationally agreed concept of host state responsibility, we have no legal jurisdiction outside of the UK. Nonetheless we consider we have a responsibility for UK airlines when they are overseas. Therefore guidance has been issued to UK carriers setting out security procedures for their overseas operations, but these can only be recommended practice and are dependent on the host state for facilitation.

  This package of overseas measures takes account of the situation of group check-ins as described by Mr Hancock. It recommends that aircraft operators allow group check-in only when the group leader or representative can individually identify each passenger's baggage by name and number of pieces at check-in, and can answer the security questions for all group members. Checks on the authenticity of travel documents produced by the group representative are also advised.

  The overseas measures also recommend that airlines search all items of hold baggage. Furthermore, they ask airlines to ensure reconciliation of passengers and baggage, by ensuring that each item of hold baggage is identified as to whether it is accompanied or not, and that all persons who have hold baggage on board the aircraft, board it. Unaccompanied bags may be carried, but only if they have been searched to a specific standard, which is higher than that for normal hold baggage screening.

  Once the hold baggage of the group to which Mr Hancock referred reached the UK, it would have been under the jurisdiction of the UK national aviation security programme. Mr Hancock had concerns about the security of transfer baggage within the UK. Our requirements, which are legally binding on airlines, cover screening and reconciliation of all hold baggage, regardless of whether it is originating in the UK, or is transferring from an incoming to outgoing flight. All hold baggage on international flights must be screened to a specified standard: this has been a legal requirement since July 1997. The baggage must also be subject to the reconciliation procedures described above, and this has been a legal requirement since July 1994.

  The second incident concerned a flight with Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, where Mr Hancock's bags travelled on a separate aircraft and it appears that a number of bags travelled unaccompanied on the flight he was on. We can appreciate Mr Hancock's concern at this. However, the UK Government has no locus in this sort of situation—the flight was operating under the jurisdiction of the Turkish aviation security programme and furthermore, it was not being operated by a UK carrier.

  As a member state of ICAO, the Turkish programme should comply with the Standards and Recommended Practices of Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention. At the time of Mr Hancock's journey this required that national aviation security programmes must include measures to ensure that aircraft operators do not transport the baggage of passengers who are not on board the aircraft, unless the baggage separated from the passengers is subjected to other security control measures. These measures were not specified by ICAO. They could therefore even be as little as the captain of the aircraft considering the circumstances and being satisfied that these were genuine and that the baggage therefore would not pose a threat to the aircraft. This was the situation at the time of Mr Hancock's journey in 1998. The UK has long-lobbied for the tightening of this ICAO standard, but progress is slow. The most recent update of Annex 17 now specifies that the appropriate security controls may include screening. A new Standard has also been introduced by ICAO that provides that from 1 January 2006, each Contracting State shall establish measures to ensure that originating hold baggage is screened prior to being loaded onto an aircraft.

Q883—The measures taken at Newcastle Airport to secure segregation of arriving and departing passengers

  Newcastle Airport is fully compliant with ICAO, ECAC and UK requirements in this respect. Departing passengers are physically segregated from arriving international passengers either through physical structures or by the use of vehicles to take arriving passengers directly to the terminal arrivals hall. Work is due to begin this summer to achieve complete physical segregation during 2003.

  There is no segregation between arriving and departing domestic passengers. This is not required as all passengers on UK domestic flights have been screened to the same standard.

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