Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1360 - 1379)

WEDNESDAY 8 MAY 2002

MR IAIN JACK AND MR IAN HUTCHESON

  1360. The problem about these situations is always the further away you get from incidents you know what happens, the complacency sets in. I take it from your earlier remarks you feel that your industry has changed quite remarkably in its perceptions.
  (Mr Hutcheson) I would say performance management is something I have been particularly interested in for many years and on joining BAA in 1997 I took all my previous experience with me and I set about installing a performance management regime within the security function. That is done through the use of technology, it is done through the use of covert test programmes that test virtually all of our security processes. The more critical ones are tested more thoroughly than some of the less critical ones.

  1361. Okay, that is the motivational side on that side of it but motivation is also about remuneration, about how much people are paid. If you are paying them at whatever we call it, the UK national average or below, or even a little bit above, you are probably not getting the individuals you want. Is that fair?
  (Mr Hutcheson) I think that is slightly unfair because we do pay above the market rate.

  1362. How much above? What do we mean by "market rate"?
  (Mr Hutcheson) I have got to be honest and say we pay between £6 and £7 an hour, which is more than other people pay, but that is not what people take home because they get all the other benefits of working for BAA that are part of the package. Together with overtime there is what I would say is a reasonable wage.

Chairman

  1363. What is the turnover of security staff?
  (Mr Hutcheson) The turnover is between six and ten per cent within BAA, in America it is 110 per cent, so you can draw some comparisons about aviation security.

  Chairman: That gives an indication.

Mr Cran

  1364. Nonetheless I would like to see the figures if you could produce them about what these people are being paid because it seems to me to be crucial.
  (Mr Hutcheson) I may have been inaccurate so I would like to provide it in writing.

  Chairman: I am sure if there is anybody on your staff who listens to the radio broadcast they will be writing in to us fairly swiftly to tell us what they get.

Mr Roy

  1365. When you reply on the wage structure can you tell me how many hours they work. I am not interested in how many hours you have got to work if it is overtime but I would like to know what they are paid to do their normal 37 hour week.
  (Mr Hutcheson) Yes.

Mr Cran

  1366. Just one other question because the Chairman waded over everybody's questions at the beginning, including mine, it is a slight repetition. I think I heard you say how many thousand security passes had been withdrawn?
  (Mr Hutcheson) 22,000.

  1367. Was that as a result of an organised background check or was this just a random exercise?
  (Mr Hutcheson) It was a random exercise but it was built on the basis of how long it was since people had used their pass and on the basis that if they have not used it they no longer need it.

  1368. Unless I misunderstood what you have been saying, do you not think you have to move to the next step?
  (Mr Hutcheson) We have.

  1369. You have. Could you just outline that?
  (Mr Hutcheson) We have put in place new measures for applying for a pass. The Government on 28 March made several recommendations. We have introduced standards for proof of identity which are way and above what is required within Government entities. We have introduced a completely new system for applying for a pass and how we check references. TRANSEC are about to issue a new direction that further divides up the restricted zones so there will be an even tighter area in the middle. Criminal checks for staff who work in the inside area will be a requirement as soon as we can work out a methodology for doing it and the Criminal Records Bureau, which was only a live entity eight weeks ago, is able to deal with the volume of work. We have completely restructured the application form to include a photograph. We have completely revamped the system so that it is much more stringent for people to get a pass. A lot of this work was in train anyway post 11 September and I think the incidents at Heathrow merely expedited the timing.

  1370. And this applies, of course, to all new applicants but what about existing pass holders?
  (Mr Hutcheson) There is a big issue about that because employment law makes it illegal to do retrospective checks.

Mr Howarth

  1371. Which law is that?
  (Mr Hutcheson) I am not sure of the Act and section.

  Chairman: Please find out.

  Mr Roy: We have the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.

  Chairman: We will send the transcript to you so you can look through what we are asking you for.

Mr Cran

  1372. So you have examined this issue for existing staff and you have had to say "we cannot progress"?
  (Mr Hutcheson) No, we have not given up yet. We have asked lawyers for legal opinion because there are two ways of doing it, you either include it as part of a requirement for employment or you require it as part of an application for an air side pass. It could be discriminatory and we clearly do not want to do anything that is illegal so we have asked could we do it retrospectively on renewal and we are waiting for legal advice. I will include a note on what the relevant statutes are.

Chairman

  1373. Finally, Mr Hutcheson, as we are producing a report in the next six weeks it would be quite helpful if you could give us some additional information because applicants for jobs have human rights but passengers on aircraft have human rights as well, the right to be able to arrive the other side without being blown up. I do not think too many people would be too critical. Something that has interested me for a long time is the private security industry and at least legislation will impose standards upon you that you are going to have to adhere to anyway and certainly access to criminal records will be one of the requirements placed upon you.
  (Mr Hutcheson) I am not sure that the Private Security Bill actually applies to aviation security. I think that will be dealt with separately because it was felt that aviation security was already regulated by the Government and the Department of Transport, hence the listing of security companies under the Aviation Security Act.

  1374. Thank you very much. I hope I have time to alter that paragraph in my book. I am not sure that you are right.
  (Mr Hutcheson) That is my understanding, I may well be wrong.

  Chairman: I hope you are wrong.

Mr Howarth

  1375. Without going into all the detail about those two recent robberies at what certainly used to be called "thief row", quite clearly it has done an awful lot of damage to public confidence of your security at Heathrow. You have told us some of the measures that you have taken since those two robberies and you implied that consideration of these additional measures were already under way before these two robberies took place. Can you tell us whether there are any other measures that you are taking apart from those you have told us about, the new measures on applying for passes, the restricted zones being redefined and the problem of existing pass holders, which I think we would like to address? Is there anything else that you are doing? You could use this forum to reassure the public that BAA recognises the gravity of the situation and is determined to do something about it.
  (Mr Hutcheson) We are making much greater use of CCTV and we have established a working party with the police to look at other measures. I cannot go into details but I think there is strong evidence to suggest that there was no breach of security. You can draw your own conclusions from my statement that there was no breach of security. There are two distinct areas here. One is about the measures that are in place to prevent terrorism which may not necessarily prevent some crimes. The aviation security programme has been drawn up purely to deal with the sabotage and hijacking of aircraft, it was not drawn up to deal with thefts within a workplace.

  1376. No, but the point is if some people by whatever means can get access air side to nick four million quid's worth of notes they can get access to an aeroplane and therefore they could, if their intention was so to do,—
  (Mr Hutcheson) You are making an assumption in that statement that they did not have any right to be there.

  Mr Howarth: No, I am not making that assumption.

  Chairman: I think Mr Hutcheson has said quite a lot there, so we will move on.

Syd Rapson

  1377. We are now in the minority, Chairman, you realise that. DTLR issued an announcement in March saying about CCTV "Over the next few months CCTV coverage in all airports will be reviewed and plans produced for improvements in both the amount and quality of coverage" and that will change from airport to airport. It sounds very good and everybody gets very pleased that we will have a change but David Veness, who I think is the Assistant Commissioner—
  (Mr Hutcheson) Special Operations, New Scotland Yard.

  1378. A very competent man. He was not very impressed by what he saw of CCTV coverage. Can the public be confident that major UK airports have better CCTV coverage than the average town centre? We find that the problem in town centres is the screens are not being washed to see something going on or it is not being recorded or otherwise. With so many screens in a city centre that is understandable, airports must be limited. Can we be assured that airport CCTV coverage is as good as it ought to be?
  (Mr Hutcheson) I would refute that there is less CCTV coverage at airports than there is in the average High Street in terms of totality of systems. I do not think there is any evidence to support that statement. What I would say is that many of the systems have been put in for bespoke purposes and they may not necessarily carry out a crime prevention role. I think the first piece of work to do, and we have actually done it, is to carry out an audit of all the existing CCTV systems at the airport and who owns them, Customs have CCTV, Immigration has CCTV, Special Branch has CCTV, the Airport Authority has CCTV. There is a clear need to integrate the existing systems and also upgrade them where necessary. Gaps, such as the exit points from Heathrow have been identified, and we are currently trying different systems on the exits at Heathrow to identify which is the best . If you are going to have a national standard you have to make sure that the technical specification is correct and one of the best ways of establishing a standard is to actually trial it in real life and that is exactly what we are doing. Simultaneously we are working together with the police, Customs and Immigration to draw up a national standard for airport CCTV.

  1379. There must be gaps in coverage, which you can understand where cameras do not screen a particular area, but are the camera images sufficiently clear to identify individuals?
  (Mr Hutcheson) That is part of the audit work that we have carried out and where the images they are not sufficiently clear we will replace the parts of the technology necessary to make sure that they are clear. One of the areas where it is very difficult to have CCTV coverage is in the air side area where you have actually got very large aeroplanes moving around. If we go back to the incidents that we are not really talking about, both of those occurred very close to sides of large aircraft so CCTV may not have been a solution in those incidents.

  Chairman: Two five minute spots now, no more, and I promise I will not intervene. One is on the role of the military and one is on funding.


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 24 July 2002