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SpecialK

Portsmouth “security”

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I am all for appropriate security checks, but what happened at Portsmouth yesterday was anything but. After check in we were directed into the security shed and what followed I can only think of as the young members of staff on an away day from an airport. Of course the car number was logged and I was asked to open the boot. No problem, been there before and I was expecting to be asked to open the bonnet and the vehicle inspected. No. Four of us in the car, luggage for a short break. The smallest bag was taken out and we were all asked to go into the shed. This one bag was scanned and we were asked to remove all metal. My watch has been through many an airport scanner with no problem. Off it had to come because the machine is “very sensitive”. Indeed it was. The metal zip in one of the group’s trousers set it off! It was a warm day, all of us in shirt sleeves, what could we conceal?  How could anything we were wearing have any effect whatsoever on something the size of MSM? We were then directed back to the car as the obligatory boxes were ticked on the clipboard by the high vis wearers whose attitude was more that they were having a fun day out than a serious job. Did we feel more secure? Of course not. Just somebody going through the motions so they can announce how much security has been tightened up.

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2 minutes ago, SpecialK said:

How could anything we were wearing have any effect whatsoever on something the size of MSM?

Security can be frustrating but if you sailed on time then I’d be happy that it was being taken seriously.

One point I would add is that devices can be carried in many parts and by many people and then assembled on board.

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To contrast that, here's a good one.  

On Sunday in Jersey all the passengers for Sark had to go through a metal detector and have their baggage scanned. Two men were found with knives in their bags. One was a Leatherman-type multi-tool and the other a fairly dangerous looking hunting/fishing style knife with a fold-out blade. Both were bagged up and given to the crew for safekeeping. When we arrived in Sark the knives were returned to the passengers on the quayside so they could used them during the day to hunt, fish, make impromptu repairs to tractors or simply cut up an apple for lunch. Both men looked harmless enough. At 4pm we all gathered back on the quayside for the return crossing and the two men got onboard without any fuss. The crew didn't ask them to surrender their knives, they didn't volunteer to do so and there was no baggage scanner available (I suspect Sark's electricity generator can't actually supply enough current to power one, especially if Mavis is using her hair dryer at the same time). So we travelled back to Jersey and then on to France with either two perfectly normal people or two knife-wielding psychopaths. And we all survived. Ed. 

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27 minutes ago, SpecialK said:

Just somebody going through the motions so they can announce how much security has been tightened up.

That's all any of these things are at ferry ports, for show. Money would be better spent on proper targeted security than on this stuff. 
 

One thing we can be relatively sure of though is that anyone up to no good would probably decide go by car because at all the channel ports they check every foot passenger, for no obvious reason, whilst waving through hundreds of cars and lorries with no checks at all. 

I don't really feel unsafe anywhere when travelling but if I did this approach would make me less certain someone knew what they were doing rather than more.

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If you want a real laugh, I was checked a few weeks back getting on board NEx. The security guy didn;t actually know what to really do - where exactly does one look on a cyclist in full cycling gear, certainly had no bags!

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The Portsmouth “security” doesn’t make me feel any safer. I think the problem is that they pay minimum wage and get the quality of staff that they pay for. Not individuals with well honed soft skills in spotting security threats, but minimally trained people who are paid to follow a procedure and tick a box when the job is done.  I have encountered countless acts of stupidity for the sake of box ticking when common sense would have speeded things up and probably spotted a more serious threat. They once went to great length to find a small hidden metal button in my pocket, but happily passed over my toolbox which contained countless sharp knives, saws and chisels.  

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Anyone up to no good should travel by motorhome. We do so regularly and are checked occasionally. Have we got any knives ? Take your pick: from steak to carving to Swiss Army.  No problem. Quick look under the seats and in lockers, usually heavily packed so impossible to pick out individual items. No problem. And so on.

One thing we have never been asked is if we have switched off our gas supply. We always do but I know of many who prefer keeping their bacon frozen to caring about possible safety issues.

BF tell me it is not necessary to remind people at check-in or via the overhead port video screens or even ask them directly because the small print in T&C and the back of the hanging boarding cards says it must be turned off. That’s OK then !

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1 hour ago, The Ferry Man said:

If you want a real laugh, I was checked a few weeks back getting on board NEx. The security guy didn;t actually know what to really do - where exactly does one look on a cyclist in full cycling gear, certainly had no bags!

I bet he just couldn't resist the opportunity to give you a pat-down. Ed. 

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2 hours ago, SpecialK said:

I am all for appropriate security checks, but what happened at Portsmouth yesterday was anything but. After check in we were directed into the security shed and what followed I can only think of as the young members of staff on an away day from an airport. Of course the car number was logged and I was asked to open the boot. No problem, been there before and I was expecting to be asked to open the bonnet and the vehicle inspected. No. Four of us in the car, luggage for a short break. The smallest bag was taken out and we were all asked to go into the shed. This one bag was scanned and we were asked to remove all metal. My watch has been through many an airport scanner with no problem. Off it had to come because the machine is “very sensitive”. Indeed it was. The metal zip in one of the group’s trousers set it off! It was a warm day, all of us in shirt sleeves, what could we conceal?  How could anything we were wearing have any effect whatsoever on something the size of MSM? We were then directed back to the car as the obligatory boxes were ticked on the clipboard by the high vis wearers whose attitude was more that they were having a fun day out than a serious job. Did we feel more secure? Of course not. Just somebody going through the motions so they can announce how much security has been tightened up.

I have every sympathy having been through this charade..Cars are, according to BF check in, selected for security checks in advance. Been involved in such matters in the past I observed what was going on. Foreign registered vehicles were left alone..Too hard pile I suppose and so the farce went on..

  At Portsmouth it is constituted for the re assurance of the gullible yet nothing appears to be given over to intelligence led, which is the way forward these days.

  Mind you looking at the operatives I'm not surprised

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I think this subject has being aired many many times in the past.i find it a bit of a farce like most people but even if they might stop a a terror act it has done its job.so in other words better safe than sorry.

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We've been stopped for "additional checks" on half a dozen occasions.  These have been in St Malo, Santander, Portsmouth twice, Plymouth and the Eurotunnel twice over the years.  This has made us totally paranoid which must show on the initial security check as we are directed almost immediately to the shed for the intense checkover.  Never have we had any problem during these security checks except for the last experience at Plymouth in June when my Swiss Army knife caused a major discussion between two security guards!   Got it back but are now convinced that the car is tagged as a regular drug or illegal immigrant vehicle.  I've now changed the vehicle so look forward to seeing if we are checked on the next visit.

In all seriousness we don't mind and would rather this was undertaken efficiently and thoroughly as it sometimes is at airports.  But as others have alluded to, if a terrorist and his/her buddies wished to take bomb components aboard they could easily do this. 

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If there was a realistic threat of a mob being brought on board via a car it would be easy enough to have sniffer dogs go quickly around every car .

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50 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

If there was a realistic threat of a mob being brought on board via a car it would be easy enough to have sniffer dogs go quickly around every car .

They haven't got any at Portsmouth Neil, so that option is out. They are restricted to checking  OAP's instead...The French have a far more selective and focussed approach to security, sometimes on the car deck as well as armed troops on voyage as well..

  The British approach is more often...we need to be seen to do something so how cheap can we actually do it??

Edited by Paully
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They would deploy sniffer dogs there if they thought it was necessary was my point, the only BF port I’ve seen dogs at was Ouistreham and that was a while ago.

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1 hour ago, neilcvx said:

They would deploy sniffer dogs there if they thought it was necessary was my point, the only BF port I’ve seen dogs at was Ouistreham and that was a while ago.

Yes you see them at bilbao and santander also,it would be a very good idea if they were used more often in the uk.

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Them dogs do a very good jobs in stopping drugs or if I must say it bombs ,in which I think ferries are a very height risk of attack.(don't want to scare anyone)

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I think in all honesty, security at French ports is in the hands of one of the Police Forces, professionally trained and access to many and varied resources.

  At PIP security is the domain of Portsmouth City Council, the owners...Nuff said

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4 hours ago, neilcvx said:

They would deploy sniffer dogs there if they thought it was necessary was my point, the only BF port I’ve seen dogs at was Ouistreham and that was a while ago.

Yes they could, but don’t forget at Ouistreham it’s the Douanes they do have dogs, at Pompey it’s ISS or some such company, a contractor,  not even on behalf of Border Force, but PIP or BF . They have a contract to inspect so many vehicles a certain percentage based on a clicker pinging. Or the whim of they guy with the clicker. ( look in his right hand if you don’t believe me)

Unlike Ouistreham (where to be clear third parties ie Securitas are used) Pompey security is a complete shambles. Ex the UK. Into the  UK it’s a a complete shambles too but for other reasons  ie PIP is too small for the smooth flow of Traffic it carries. But it makes money for Portsmouth city council.

 

Edited by alleeganger10
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1 hour ago, BigDW1946 said:

We've seen sniffer dogs at Cherbourg and Roscoff. Also didn't security on Eurotunnel used to swab door handles and steering wheels for drugs?

I think the swab is checking for traces of explosive. 

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On 17/09/2019 at 18:21, SpecialK said:

I am all for appropriate security checks, but what happened at Portsmouth yesterday was anything but. After check in we were directed into the security shed and what followed I can only think of as the young members of staff on an away day from an airport. Of course the car number was logged and I was asked to open the boot. No problem, been there before and I was expecting to be asked to open the bonnet and the vehicle inspected. No. Four of us in the car, luggage for a short break. The smallest bag was taken out and we were all asked to go into the shed. This one bag was scanned and we were asked to remove all metal. My watch has been through many an airport scanner with no problem. Off it had to come because the machine is “very sensitive”. Indeed it was. The metal zip in one of the group’s trousers set it off! It was a warm day, all of us in shirt sleeves, what could we conceal?  How could anything we were wearing have any effect whatsoever on something the size of MSM? We were then directed back to the car as the obligatory boxes were ticked on the clipboard by the high vis wearers whose attitude was more that they were having a fun day out than a serious job. Did we feel more secure? Of course not. Just somebody going through the motions so they can announce how much security has been tightened up.

The checks in Portsmouth, as I understand it, are carried out by a private firm and appear to be a numbers game. There are multiple types of checks which can be carried out to in effect act as spot-checks rather than full searches (that would take quite some time on a full sailing of 500+ cars). They are as much to be a deterrent as to be fully effective. Remember though that there will also be "stuff" going on behind the scenes in terms of security and screening of people based on passenger data.

 

3 hours ago, BigDW1946 said:

We've seen sniffer dogs at Cherbourg and Roscoff. Also didn't security on Eurotunnel used to swab door handles and steering wheels for drugs?

They still do - it's the same principle as at an airport, looking for drugs/explosives.

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On ‎17‎/‎09‎/‎2019 at 18:56, hhvferry said:

at all the channel ports they check every foot passenger, for no obvious reason, whilst waving through hundreds of cars and lorries with no checks at all. 

I have to say that when I went through Portsmouth in August as a foot passenger there was only random physical checks - the rest were just waved straight through security

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We have been pulled over at Portsmouth a couple of times over the years. The first time we had 2 children in car seats in the back, the boot was jam packed, there was packing around the children in the back, we had a fully packed roofbox and we couldn't actually open the boot as we had a bike carrier on the back. I was asked a few questions but they didn't look at anything (they were probably frightened as to how we would manage to repack the car again). I had changed my car by the time I was pulled over again and the roofbox is now not needed, although we had the bikes on the back again.This time I was asked questions, they looked under the bonnet, I was asked whether I could get into the boot (only from the back seat) and they looked under the car with a mirror.

I agree with the earlier comment about the shambles of entering the UK at Portsmouth. We had the misfortune of arriving on NEX just after Normandie had docked so both ships were unloading at the same time. Friends of our were on Normandie and they were half way to London while we were still sitting waiting to get through border control.

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