Sunday, 2 March 2014

Don't Speak to me I might be a Terrorist

I have just returned from a trip to the other side of the world. In my three weeks of air travel I went through nine passport controls: into Hong Kong, out of Hong Kong; into Australia, out of Australia; into New Zealand, out of New Zealand; into Hong Kong, out of Hong Kong; into London Heathrow. Nine passport control officers perused my photograph and consulted their computers AND NOT ONE OF THEM SPOKE TO ME.

During the twenty-four years that I spent examining passengers at the frontier controls of the UK, I encountered my fair share of forged passports and in nearly every case, I discovered the falsification because I had spoken to the person holding the passport and they had 'not seemed right'. Modern passports are very clever. They can be read by a computer which will then search for the name in a database of naughty people but the only result that this process can achieve is to check the authenticity of the document. Passport control officers are no longer assessing people; they are verifying the status of a piece of paper. 

It is not the piece of paper that causes the problem, it is the person presenting it.

Don't speak to me, I might be a terrorist.

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