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Anyone on here know about border security? DD's odd experiences

(20 Posts)
KeepServingTheDrinks Sun 12-Aug-18 00:53:12

We are sadly not regular international holiday-ers.

However, DD has just done her GCSEs, so had a massive summer holiday and PLANS.

She went to France with a group of 15 and stayed at the house belonging to one of the sets of parents.

Came home and then came away for a week in Ibiza with her parents and a friend. She and the friend left after a week (while we stayed for a second week). So in both cases, there were young people travelling without an adult.

DD is amongst the oldest of her friendship group. They're all 16, but she's a November birthday and most of them are later in the year.

Coming back from France, she was stopped in Paris and told she couldn't travel alone (we'd checked this out - the parents were staying later - and it was fine). ALL her other friends walked through without issue. But DD was asked where she'd been, where she was going and told she wasn't allowed to travel unaccompanied. Seniors were brought in to authorise it. I say again, all her friends walked through unchallenged.

Coming back from Ibiza, again she was stopped and challenged. AGAIN they brought in a "manager" to give permission for her to go through. Again, her friend (younger) walked through without issue.

DD is super-tall (nearly 6'), but she's got the face of an 8 year old. She's skinny. She never wears make up, she's got unbrushed hair. She's been wearing shorts and a cut-off top. She barely drinks and doesn't smoke (same as all her friends)

In both cases they eventually "let" her through [in both cases, after calling management in, and in both cases as if they were doing her a favour and in both cases, friends younger than her walked through unchallenged].

Anyone know why?
Has she got herself on any sort of list? Will she be challenged for ever more?
Has she done anything wrong?

It's just so odd. She's got natural hair colour, only ears pierced, normal suitcase.

I really don't understand why this might have happened to her twice, when her peers weren't similarly targetted.

Also, on the way to Ibiza, she was the only one of us searched.

In a way, DH and I are quite pleased, because if she goes away independently again, we can warn her - legitimately - to stay away from drugs, and she won't think we're being paranoid!

Sorry this is long for such a non-event. But I'm so puzzled about why they've targetted her twice.

Uncreative Sun 12-Aug-18 01:11:48

Appearances count. Not just in the ‘must be a drug dealer because of the clothes’ or ‘must be a terrorist because of the religion’ way.

Anything unusual stands out.

For example, a particularly young person dressed particularly ‘well’ with expensive clothes or an older person’s sense of style. Or a young family travelling long haul to a city with a reputation for smuggling for for just two nights.

As much as we may criticise customs and immigration officials (especially at Heathrow) they have been trained to look for certain markers and, in general terms, anything that is not the norm.

The best advice for travelling is to look as boring/normal as possible and not stand out in any way. Perhaps she stood out from her crowd of friends, either as a potential ring leader or potential victim of trafficking?

I’m pretty sure that I have been on a list for additional checks when I travelled outside of Europe (a history of living in less than savoury countries that could be a red flag given my age and gender which is not normally expected for EU passport holders travelling to that region). But it seems to have stopped now as my travel patterns have changed.

It is not the end of the world if your daughter does get stopped. It is usually a minor inconvenience at most. And as you said, she’ll probably need your drug warnings more carefully!

Having written all that, I know realise I don’t know who stopped your daughter. Was it airline officials, immigration or customs?

KeepServingTheDrinks Sun 12-Aug-18 01:27:53

Thank you for that Uncreative. Interesting. DD def doesn't present as a victim (partly because she's so tall and is very chatty). She might present as a ringleader. She looks quite hippy-ish, but not a very committed one (so you wouldn't look at her and think "dope smoker" particularly. I.e., her hair is unbrushed, but not dreaded).

This thread isn't to disrespect any kind of border security. I appreciate all they do to keep us all safe (include those who travel).

I'm not completely sure who stopped her, because i wasn't there. She travelled up to Paris by bus and then got stopped getting on the train to the UK on the French trip
And then got stopped getting off the plane at Gatwick from Ibiza.

I might be more knowing if we travelled more!

PowerPlayed Sun 12-Aug-18 01:41:25

The French particularly are very strict about minors travelling alone.

A few weeks ago DH and I were travelling through French airport, we were in different immigration queues, me with two DC him with one.

They demanded he explain where our DCs mother was. I was called over to explain. Same name, clearly look alike.

KeepServingTheDrinks Sun 12-Aug-18 02:03:13

That's interesting. I understand why the French are tight on security given what's happened there over the past few years. This is not a thread to gripe about that.

More, it's because I don't understand why DD would be targetted (esp when her friends weren't, and on one of her holidays, she was part of a biggish group), esp when she's SO unsophisticated.

And, going forward, whether this is something she should expect for the rest of her life. I should add, she's got a very boring name (think "Karen Smith"), born in the UK. Both parents born in the UK. All grandparents born in the UK. Not drunk, not tattoo'd, not overly pierced (just one hole in each ear). REALLY nothing obviously "interesting" about her at all. I don't get why her and not her friends! Twice. They're all similarly dressed.

LemonysSnicket Sun 12-Aug-18 02:05:32

If someone else had their name on a list and your daughter has the same name.

Grasslands Sun 12-Aug-18 02:06:38

the thing is you don't know if there is an alert out for someone with similar features. private bulletin type situation.
years ago at a usa/canada border all people travelling with children were pulled aside, the group was massive and was held up for hours...they took our passports so we couldn't just hop back in the car and go home...

SeaToSki Sun 12-Aug-18 02:09:44

Maybe they were worried she was being trafficed?

goforthandmultiply Sun 12-Aug-18 02:10:08

You said she dresses very plainly and has a young face. If she looks very young she probably stands out and they think she's too young to travel alone.

It could also be an alert for someone with similar features or an alert on her name.

Another thing is having two trips in very short succession could raise eyebrows.

There are a million things it could be.

kmc1111 Sun 12-Aug-18 06:45:46

If she really has the face of an 8yr old then that’ll most likely be it. It would be possible for a 13-14 year old to be that tall, and someone that age travelling with a group of teenagers who look like they’re in the 16-17 age range would be unusual.

She may have also stood out from the group enough that it wasn’t obvious she was with them, and a group of teenagers travelling is somewhat different than one teen travelling solo.

Also possible she looks like someone they have an alert for, or something about her appearance and demeanour ticked a few boxes. Just because they said they were stopping her because she looked young doesn’t mean that’s what it was about. They may just have used that as an opening to talk to her, gauge her response etc.

loveisland Sun 12-Aug-18 07:30:44

Think your being a bit judgey op about stereotypes, 7 years ago I was stopped in Italy thought I was never getting home, they stopped me so many times at this airport in Rome I thought I was never getting home, at one point it was right as the plane was leaving, turned out they were looking for a description of someone exactly like me for a very important crime. They were doing there job, and I haven't been stopped again.
No drama don't over think it with your daughter.

PowerPlayed Sun 12-Aug-18 08:27:30

Most questioning of minors is around trafficking not anything else

LittleCandle Sun 12-Aug-18 08:35:10

When DD2 was 14, we went to Disneyland Paris. At border security going in, I was sent into one lane and she went into the other. Her passport photo was that of an angelic 9/10 year old, but the reality was a goth standing 5ft 10 and wearing an objectionable band t-shirt. I honestly thought they weren't going to let her through and I was making 'sorry, she's mine' type noises.

On the way back from the same trip, we had just cleared security and were putting our shoes back on when a security guard demanded DD2 go over to have her back searched, even though we had just been cleared. In DD2's bright pink messenger handbag, the guard found a stick of chewing gum, a hair bobble, bright pink fingerless gloves and a map of Disneyland. She had clearly expected to find something incriminating and literally threw the bag back at DD.

So I suspect there was something about your DD that triggered some kind of concern. But as you say, it shows that they are on top of things.

fourquenelles Sun 12-Aug-18 09:08:41

In a previous life time I was lucky enough to be able to watch some of the instant profiling that goes on at border control.
A large group of Chilian students were going through but one was pulled out for further questioning.
It was very subtle. He wasn't dressed as well as the rest and didn't seem to "fit".
It may be something ad simple as her unbrushed hair making your DD seem less groomed than the rest of her party so she stood out and therefore was worthy of further investigation.

RoseAndRose Sun 12-Aug-18 09:21:18

If she looks about 8, then that is reason in itself, especially if it wasn't obvious she was with her friends (people sometimes get separated when there are queues).

They will have been checking not only the age on her passport, but also keeping her talking whilst it was double checked that the passport was valid, not reported lost/stolen and not tampered with, also that she can talk about things in ways that match her actual age and that she sounds happy and confident about her travel.

The trafficking of youthful looking girls is something that they look out for. It is not uncommon for girls to be groomed so they will travel without their traffickers, and those who fit the profile are quite likely to be questioned.

If this is the reason, it will stop when she looks her age.

FlotSHAMnJetson Sun 12-Aug-18 09:55:57

My husband always gets searched but we are assured it is random, he is the most straight laced person you could hope to meet nothing at all about him would be a flag, he's well spoken, quiet and just very normal (I maintain it's because he's got a lovely bottom and they just want to pat it down, he's not convinced 😂)

KeepServingTheDrinks Tue 14-Aug-18 00:06:23

Thank you all for your comments. I do get it about lists and important things they're looking out for to keep us all safe, and I thank them for that!

To clarify, DD looks about 8 in her face because she (almost) never wears make up, has unbrushed hair and isn't very sophisticated-looking. But she is also very nearly 6' tall and has size 8 feet. She wouldn't be mistaken for an 8 yr old, because she's so big in terms of height. But she also doesn't look 16+ in the way some girls can. (and she's super skinny with not much in front)

AornisHades Tue 14-Aug-18 00:13:13

She may look out of place with the group which might warrant a quick look. A group of 5 foot 5 youngish looking teens with potentially an underfed adult wearing no make up to pass? Potential trafficking thing.

Sycamoretrees Tue 14-Aug-18 00:25:11

What was her reaction to bring stopped? Perhaps the second time was because she was looking nervous after what happened the first time?

parklives Tue 14-Aug-18 09:30:46

Maybe she fits the description or projected description of a missing child?

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