Women singled out for strip-searches
WOMEN are being disproportionately singled out for strip-searches at London's Gatwick airport, an official study has found.
John Vine, the government's chief inspector of immigration, highlighted the failings of security staff in a highly critical report.
It followed a study of immigration and customs operations at Gatwick Airport's north terminal last year.
It was Vine who disclosed the unauthorised relaxation of immigration checks which heaped embarrassment on Theresa May, the UK Home Secretary.
He found a series of irregularities in the way in which searches were being made. Searches were found to be discriminatory, with Afro-Caribbean women being singled out, and were not recorded as required.
"Although the majority of person searches involved men, women were significantly more likely to be subject to a strip-search than men if a search were undertaken."
About 54% of the women who were stopped and inspected by Border Force officers were subsequently strip-searched.
For men the proportion was less than 20%.
Grounds for subjecting women to a strip-search included that they had bought their ticket only a day before travelling, were carrying £200 or more in cash or had said they were in Britain to look for hair and beauty products.
According to Vine, there were insufficient grounds to search the women who had been picked out, let alone subject them to a full strip search.
The way in which the searches were done and recorded was legally questionable, Vine added.
"Failure to observe the correct recording procedure can render evidence inadmissible in court and mean officers could face charges of assault."
Vine observed that officers had stopped individuals because they felt they had to stop someone.
His report highlighted an incident in which a gay passenger was subjected to discriminatory treatment because he was with a boyfriend and an officer believed "he might be involved in paedophilia".
"The officer commented to a colleague that the passenger was HIV- positive.
"The colleague then advised that the searching officer use stronger hand gel.
"These comments were made within earshot of the passenger and others."