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John M

Security, what is your opinion.

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Firstly please let me relate the tale of our recent holiday travel. We sailed Plymouth - Roscoff overnight 9th June. We had received a text message to say the Pont was running late from Santander so early boarding would not be possible. We joined the queue in plenty of time and passed through the first checkpoint without incident. We waited a short time to be called through the search building where it became obvious that only about one in ten vehicles were being searched and even then only a cursory check. We settled in the holding area only to be surprised by the loading starting after only about ten minutes. All through this process, the only security visible was in the search garage. Forward then to our return, Roscoff - Plymouth 24th June. We arrived at Roscoff and quickly went through ticket check/ passport check. Whilst waiting to move into the final holding area, the only vehicles being checked were caravans, motor homes and vans. We moved into the final holding area, again no sign of any extra security, after about twenty minutes wait we moved onto the ferry. On arrival at Plymouth, no sign of any security at all, we passed through passport control/ immigration and as we passed the customs shed it was closed and in darkness. This to me indicated a lack of intention to search any vehicle. My question is this :- does anyone else find this lack of security acceptable or does anyone, like me, think that if you are going to do something then do it properly. I find the lack of serious searching/questioning totally unacceptable. I understand the implications of delays due to security implementations but we are talking about the safety of hundreds of people.

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There is never any realistic hope or expectation of finding anything in these searches - proper security happens in the background, identifying and monitoring likely suspects and intercepting communications. Apart from airports I don't find searches or the lack of them unacceptable, I find them tedious - they are trying to make people feel "safer" whilst wasting money that could otherwise be spent on more productive antiterrorism work. Why search every person and every car getting onto a ferry in Plymouth but not every train leaving every main station? It's a box-ticking exercise and leads to the imagination, if there isn't thorough searching, that "security" isn't being taken seriously!

There is also a degree of back-covering so that their pretence of security might at least maybe make your would-be terrorist head towards a different target. But we live in a free country where the number of potential targets is so vast and the individual threat at any one of them minuscule that the focus should be on properly funding the more rewarding, targetted work. But they should also remind people that the likelihood of being involved in such an incident is tiny, that you can't control everywhere and that if you make it through the day without being searched or questioned it isn't a failure of security, it is an expression of freedom.

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21 minutes ago, John M said:

Firstly please let me relate the tale of our recent holiday travel. We sailed Plymouth - Roscoff overnight 9th June. We had received a text message to say the Pont was running late from Santander so early boarding would not be possible. We joined the queue in plenty of time and passed through the first checkpoint without incident. We waited a short time to be called through the search building where it became obvious that only about one in ten vehicles were being searched and even then only a cursory check. We settled in the holding area only to be surprised by the loading starting after only about ten minutes. All through this process, the only security visible was in the search garage. Forward then to our return, Roscoff - Plymouth 24th June. We arrived at Roscoff and quickly went through ticket check/ passport check. Whilst waiting to move into the final holding area, the only vehicles being checked were caravans, motor homes and vans. We moved into the final holding area, again no sign of any extra security, after about twenty minutes wait we moved onto the ferry. On arrival at Plymouth, no sign of any security at all, we passed through passport control/ immigration and as we passed the customs shed it was closed and in darkness. This to me indicated a lack of intention to search any vehicle. My question is this :- does anyone else find this lack of security acceptable or does anyone, like me, think that if you are going to do something then do it properly. I find the lack of serious searching/questioning totally unacceptable. I understand the implications of delays due to security implementations but we are talking about the safety of hundreds of people.

I can't say I've ever felt concerned. There are random checks and I expect there is a lot of clever analysis of data behind the scenes that reduces the risk even further. I think the current measures are pragmatic and I'm not sure what else could be done with the resources available.. In recent times I've certainly noticed a big police presence at the French ports. Caen and St Malo both appeared to have a high level of Police/Gendarme/Douane.

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On 6/25/2017 at 12:37, John M said:

Firstly please let me relate the tale of our recent holiday travel. We sailed Plymouth - Roscoff overnight 9th June. We had received a text message to say the Pont was running late from Santander so early boarding would not be possible. We joined the queue in plenty of time and passed through the first checkpoint without incident. We waited a short time to be called through the search building where it became obvious that only about one in ten vehicles were being searched and even then only a cursory check. We settled in the holding area only to be surprised by the loading starting after only about ten minutes. All through this process, the only security visible was in the search garage. Forward then to our return, Roscoff - Plymouth 24th June. We arrived at Roscoff and quickly went through ticket check/ passport check. Whilst waiting to move into the final holding area, the only vehicles being checked were caravans, motor homes and vans. We moved into the final holding area, again no sign of any extra security, after about twenty minutes wait we moved onto the ferry. On arrival at Plymouth, no sign of any security at all, we passed through passport control/ immigration and as we passed the customs shed it was closed and in darkness. This to me indicated a lack of intention to search any vehicle. My question is this :- does anyone else find this lack of security acceptable or does anyone, like me, think that if you are going to do something then do it properly. I find the lack of serious searching/questioning totally unacceptable. I understand the implications of delays due to security implementations but we are talking about the safety of hundreds of people.

John, when using the booking engine you input your vehicle, personal & accompanying passenger details. The Check in areas also have ANPR. Believe me, the powers that be know all about you prior to arriving and embarkation. When travelling from the UK this information is wire transferred to their French counterparts and vice versa. It's been reciprocal since the 1980's.

What you see is mainly for show, a visible presence to offer a degree of assurance for the many and maybe a change of heart for the few (contraband). Think of it a bit like a duck... the business end is all underneath.

Also ports aren't busy enough, there are hardly any crowds to mingle with, too many open spaces with a good deal of both visible & covert surveillance.

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Coming home aboard MSM now. Arriving at Ouistreham the Gendarmerie were out in force, before the check in booths and indicating which lane we should go into. Our passports were then, very politely checked and the contents of the boot were inspected. It did not slow us down as we were waiting for the cars in front to check in. We have seen caravans, motor homes and the like checked before but not such a close examination of cars. Quite what they hope to find also eluded me. They were  very cursory checks but perhaps it was more subtle than that as an attitude test.

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I have to say that the lack of security both at Portsmouth and St Malo has caused me some concern for a number of years now and the recent terrorist attacks have made me feel anxious. I visited St Malo last week.  I only saw the odd car being checked.  Only a handful of foot passengers had to go through security.  There was no Police at Portsmouth or in St Malo.  I know that we have to give details ahead of our trip.  However, people can slip through the net as we've seen in recent attacks.  Also, I read that Armed Marshalls were now onboard ships.  Where?  I never saw anyone on either crossing.  We were told that 3 people were caught in St Malo last August who were planning an attack: one at the cathedral and another two on the beach.  Luckily they were apprehended.  However, in my time in St Malo I didn't see any Police.  I'm going back in September for 10 days.  However, the lack of security worries me.  

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it isn't just the uk, I got waved through the passport control entering Greece recently without even handing over or opening my passport. 

Gatwick was very thorough on my return though,

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11 hours ago, Shirleyk29 said:

I have to say that the lack of security both at Portsmouth and St Malo has caused me some concern for a number of years now and the recent terrorist attacks have made me feel anxious. I visited St Malo last week.  I only saw the odd car being checked.  Only a handful of foot passengers had to go through security.  There was no Police at Portsmouth or in St Malo.  I know that we have to give details ahead of our trip.  However, people can slip through the net as we've seen in recent attacks.  Also, I read that Armed Marshalls were now onboard ships.  Where?  I never saw anyone on either crossing.  We were told that 3 people were caught in St Malo last August who were planning an attack: one at the cathedral and another two on the beach.  Luckily they were apprehended.  However, in my time in St Malo I didn't see any Police.  I'm going back in September for 10 days.  However, the lack of security worries me.  

Im not entirely sure we have seen people "slip through the net" as far as checks go. The impression I get is the intelligence services are doing a fine job in the background, in collaboration with their european partners to monitor suspects across the continent.

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The two main French Police Forces, like their UK counterparts have suffered large cutbacks and manpower is not what it was. This is also the peak annual leave time for officers and their families. Its probable that St Malo simply doesn`t have the Police numbers available to attend the sailings. Other ports may be `blitzed` or `showing the flag` visits from time to time. They have many and varied duties to attend to all day every day.

  A lot of the security now in vulnerable places is being provided by the Army to assist the stretched Police. Re onboard ships, the tactics will vary on a regular basis.Sometimes overt (John Wayne type), often covert and sometimes even dressed as crew, and yes sometimes not onboard at all. The car checks at check in will often be to ensure there are no illegals, drugs, firearms etc easy to access. A cursory look is often enough, and all they have time for. 

  Security behind the scenes is what we all need, what we see is indeed window dressing. If you want to feel safe travelling by air fly with EL AL. Total security and far better than anything we have.

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Coming back through Portsmouth on Monday evening, there were, unusually, two uniformed men (Police or Border Agency?) standing outside the booths on the seaward side (not the land side where the Customs Officers wait), chatting amongst themselves and with the people in the waiting cars. All of a sudden they appeared to get a radio message and set off at top speed towards a car that had just joined the  queue. Don't know what happened next as our turn came to move forward to the Border Agent - who was as courteous and efficient as always. But it suggests to me that it was an intelligence led action.

Edited by rogerpatenall

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From a BF email today:

 

 
 
I'd like to let you know about changes we've made to security controls for our customers. We work very closely with the authorities to ensure our customers enjoy a relaxing and safe sailing, but are taking steps to enhance these robust controls with additional measures of our own. 
 
Many of these measures are covert, in other words not readily apparent to customers. Others will be more obvious. Last summer saw the introduction of French military guards (sea marshals) on board some of our sailings and this is continuing. But as well as sea marshals, we shall now add dedicated independent security personnel. These personnel will be charged with tasks such as screening luggage on garage decks. During this process any luggage you are carrying may be subject to inspection, so you may wish to take this into account when choosing (and packing) your overnight bag.
 
I would like to be clear that these measures are not in response to any specific threat. They are the result of investment in a thorough review of security in all our ports and on board all our ships. The additional measures, we believe, are a reassuring, sensible evolution of the service we offer and further evidence of our commitment to your safety and security.
 
Thank you for your patience and understanding - we're all looking forward to welcoming you on board.
 
Yours faithfully
 
Christophe Mathieu
Chief Executive Officer
 
 
 
 
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On my trip to Roscoff on June 19th the Port Security were checking every vehicle. In addition on boarding the ferry there were three Gendarmerie Marine on the ferry, two with sub-machine guns & one with a hand gun. This seemed an impressive shew of security.

(In addition I agree the other security checks of identity; email - relates to IP home address, car registration - identifies owner and home address, telephone number - shews owner, bank account details - identifies owner and home address, passport - photo recognition of individual, are very very important).

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Just got my e mail, same as penguin did....screening luggage on the car deck??..wonder how thats going to work.Its like herding cats at the best of times on departure..I`ll post after Sunday

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I received this email also, and think it is a ridiculous idea. As Rich said, the place to screen people's luggage is on the quayside. If they screen luggage on the garage deck and find something untoward, how are they going to remove the passengers involved and their vehicle, when the vehicle will already be hemmed in by other cars? This needs a re-think at BF Towers IMO.

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I'm sure such a glaring issue has been considered. Checking luggage on the car deck was listed as a single example. No doubt a plan and procedure has been created, just not detailed in the email for obvious reasons.

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On 6/29/2017 at 19:05, westy said:

On my trip to Roscoff on June 19th the Port Security were checking every vehicle. In addition on boarding the ferry there were three Gendarmerie Marine on the ferry, two with sub-machine guns & one with a hand gun. This seemed an impressive shew of security.

(In addition I agree the other security checks of identity; email - relates to IP home address, car registration - identifies owner and home address, telephone number - shews owner, bank account details - identifies owner and home address, passport - photo recognition of individual, are very very important).

I sailed back from Roscoff yesterday, and having seen this post prior to sailing, I was expecting to be searched, but other than 2 or 3 gendarmes stationed before the check-in booths, there didn't appear to be any extra security, and no-one on board.  I wasn't searched either. 

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On 7/2/2017 at 18:49, Shefford said:

I received this email also, and think it is a ridiculous idea. As Rich said, the place to screen people's luggage is on the quayside. If they screen luggage on the garage deck and find something untoward, how are they going to remove the passengers involved and their vehicle, when the vehicle will already be hemmed in by other cars? This needs a re-think at BF Towers IMO.

I'd be tempted to say that those checks arent really intended to be useful, mostly for appericance. It's probably thought to be the most convinent location to do it.

 

Having said that, a french police officer had a quick check of my car at the weekend, so it is being done on the quayside too. 

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Out of interest Mrs FW left the house in Roscoff at 04h00 this morning and caught the 08h30 MSM sailing from Caen. She texted to say a friendly gendarme was going through her suitcase (and underwear) with an unsmiling soldier holding a very large gun in close attendance. I told her to smile sweetly.........

I did the same trip this evening and am on the overnight MSM sailing. No police, no checks and no guns, all in the same day.

On a different tack but related to another thread, I was on Normandie last Tuesday, the crew were buzzing, happy, interacting with customers, very different to the impression we get sometimes on the forums. The cabins look so much better with new carpets and lighting, I think she'll do very well once she moves to Le Havre.

I know the current purser on MSM well; he said  pasnegerv numbers are down compared to last year, and revenues compromised due to the weak Pound. Let's hope BF post some sort of a profit this year, otherwise the banks won't look favourably at funding the next new vessel to replace Pont Aven and release Bretagne.

Chris

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Passenger numbers were well down on the Bretagne on the Sunday night crossing..Les Abers, busy but not full, and the Gwen Ha Du bar was less than half full and not much of an atmosphere...mind you entertainment was poor. On arrival at At Malo there was no queuing on the steps to the car decks either.

 

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