Women are regularly singled out for strip searches at Gatwick airport, according to a government study into the airport's immigration and customs operations over the summer of 2011. Although more men were searched, 54 percent of the women inspected by Border Force officers were strip searched as opposed to 20 percent of men. Awesome.
But let's not overreact here! These women were definitely threats to national security and/or The Queen: according to The Telegraph, "Grounds for subjecting women to a strip search included the fact that they had bought a ticket the day before travel, were carrying £200 in cash or had said they were in Britain to look for hair and beauty products." Looking for hair and beauty products in various body cavities, clearly.
According to John Vine, the Government's chief inspector of immigration, the women who were searched shouldn't have been searched at all, even fully-clothed. More great news: Vine said the way in which the searches were carried out and recorded was "also legally questionable." He observed that "officers had stopped individuals because they felt they had to stop someone."
Oh, come on, give the officers a little credit: they did manage to mostly stop certain types of people! According to the study, Afro-Caribbean women were singled out most of all. The officers weren't fans of gay people, either:
His report also highlighted an incident where a gay passenger was subject to discriminatory treatment because he was with a boyfriend and an officer believed "he might be involved in paedophilia".
"The officer then commented to another officer that the passenger was HIV positive; the colleague then advised that the searching officer should use stronger hand gel.
"These comments were made within earshot of the passenger and indeed other passengers in the channel."
A Border Force spokesperson said they were looking into the cases and have already "addressed the Chief Inspector's recommendations by introducing additional training for staff on issues of discrimination." Sounds super helpful.
Women being singled out for airport strip searches [The Telegraph]
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