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A friend of mine had a terrible experience at GAtwick airpoort ..what would you have done in her place?

(114 Posts)
gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:34:42

Ok I am going to try and sumamrise the story : a friend of mine travelling yesterday from gatwick airport with her two children experienced first hand the ugly side of the tough security measures that have lately been making a lot of headlines. Her 7 year old son ( who has learning difficulties)was asked to take his shoes off and wouldn't. My friend did her best but the boy would not take his shoes off and flew into a tantrum. So what happens next you ask? The secuirty personnel get all serious and demand the boy takes his shoes off.The mother keeps trying to explain the situation and to her dismay is told: his behaviour is NOT acceptable! They then call a superior security person and then amidst the boy's screaming and howling and kicking and beating four persons pin him down and take the pair of shoes off!!! My poor friend who was also carrying her 4 month old baby was so shocked she just sat and watched. Her son continued to fight and scream and she has bruises all over body because as soon as the shoes came off the boy went ballistic on her. She called me earlier from abroad and is detrmined NEVER to come to the UK again. She has absolutely no problem with security measures she is just horrified at the inhumane, insensitive, harsh and terrorist like behaviour of these airport security personnel. I myself am sizzling. Nothing can excuse this, not even the fact we were just faced with a failed terrorist plot.

booyhoo Mon 01-Nov-10 15:38:54

jesus christ. they pinned down a 7 year old!!!! i have no idea what i would have done. i would hav ebeen in tears teh same as your friend. i would be making complaints big style.

booyhoo Mon 01-Nov-10 15:39:17

i am truly shocked by this.

gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:41:23

I tell you i have been shaking with anger since she told me..nothing whatsoever can excuse this ..not even if the son was spoilt and just would not co operate.. surely this is taking precaution too far

HeadFairy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:42:47

Is your friend English or an English speaker? I ask because if in the same situation I would have been so furious I would have demanded the head of security is called and I would have been making a formal complaint, with follow ups if I didn't get a massive apology and some kind of compensation. That is simply unacceptable. I would even be seeking a lawyer to find out if the security guards are guilty of assault.

To be honest if I'd seen four people pinning down my ds I would have raised merry hell until the police were called. Much rather deal with someone who actually has the weight of the law behind them than some jumped up twat with superiority issues in a uniform.

sarah293 Mon 01-Nov-10 15:43:02

Message withdrawn

Rindercella Mon 01-Nov-10 15:43:38

Oh my God, that is horrific.

That poor boy. Couldn't they just have taken the family to a quiet place, allowed the boy to be calmed by his mother and then dealt with it in a calm and caring manner?

I don't know if I dare to ask, but where were they flying to/from? And are your friends white?

HowsTheSerenity Mon 01-Nov-10 15:45:15

I am not at all surprised. A lot of the security guards there seem to think they are the sas, cops, air marshalls and men in black all rolled into one.

I would write a letter to everyone involved (security company, airline, airport) demanding an apology and review of their systems.

I would also demand copies of the cctv footage for your lawyer and the media if they refuse to comply.

It is one thing to treat an adult this way but an obviously distressed child is another.


gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:45:35

she is an American Muslim who lives in the Middle East..she does not wear a face veil , does not "look scary", and her kids are UK citizens...i would have made such a commotion myself but she was so shocked she says she just froze..

scurryfunge Mon 01-Nov-10 15:45:37

It seems dreadful but we don't have selective security.....perhaps she should have removed his shoes and not waited for the security peole to wade in. They have not handled this well but at least we know security is strict.

theyoungvisiter Mon 01-Nov-10 15:46:42

Surely that has to be some kind of assault? The fact that you are on airport property can't possibly be a license to manhandle children - can it?

I mean fine - refuse allow them past the checkpoint until the parent had dealt with the situation and removed the shoes. But pinning down a 7 year old with learning difficulties? How is that EVER acceptable?

I don't know what I would have done. Sobbed hysterically and then composed a letter to my MP, probably.

LaurieScaryCake Mon 01-Nov-10 15:47:14

So basically we're saying that security guards pinned down a child who couldn't understand or process what they were saying. shock angry

Get a lawyer.

gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:47:56

oh and she is VERY is her son.

scurryfunge Mon 01-Nov-10 15:49:03

If she is American she will know that US security treat foreigners like shit also.

gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:50:24

and to make it worse they asked her is she was ok after that shock

pagwatch Mon 01-Nov-10 15:50:24

we had a similar experience at Miami aiport. DS 2was being sunjected to a search and I was told to shut up when i tried to calm him doen and encourage him to co-operate and to stop him crying.

Sad wanker types who wanted to be police I think

Having said that we came through Gatwick on Sunday and they treated DS2 beautifully - very kind to him even when he set the alarm off ( still don't know why)

theyoungvisiter Mon 01-Nov-10 15:50:55

Well, the security guards may be arses but at least on this evidence they are equal opportunities arses.

Still wrong though - the only way I think this would be acceptable (and even then you could deal with it better) would be if the boy made a rush to the other side of the checkpoint. At that point I think they would be justified in restraining him.

But if he wasn't trying to pass security then surely the way to deal with it is to turn the family back until it's dealt with, not assault a child with no understanding of the process?

darcymum Mon 01-Nov-10 15:51:37

That is terrible, they should not have been so heavy handed an alternative could have been just to not let them board the plane.

gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:52:10

she has an american passport but does not live in the US and yes the americans are no point is nobody should be allowed to do this..this does not help any cause.

gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:55:12

obviously the boy had a big problem with removing his shoes in those people should have acted with more sensitivity. first he is just a kid, second he is a kid with a learning disablity, and third these people should be trained to deal with all situations...or else how can they "protect us"

scurryfunge Mon 01-Nov-10 15:56:17

I think she will have to put up with the fact that airport security is different these days due to people wanting to terrorise.....if we don't like the controls put in place,then don't travel. Removing shoes is not new, what did the mother do to prepare her son for the removal?

gypsymummy Mon 01-Nov-10 15:58:43

i did say she has no problem with all the measures but nothing prepares you for this..and he is an unpredictbale child who will say yes to something one time, no the next..she was not here on holiday but on important business and oh yes she does not intend to travek soon unless she has to as she did this time.

booyhoo Mon 01-Nov-10 15:59:39

scurry, regardless of what she did to prepare her son, these security staff have over-reacted massively.

wouldliketoknow Mon 01-Nov-10 16:00:25

get a lawyer, get the cctv, call teh bbc... doesn't matter in what order.

pagwatch Mon 01-Nov-10 16:01:52


I prepared DS2 to remove his shoes and we had it covered. The problem we had was thatthe security cock guard was shouting at me and pushing in front of me so I couldn't give him his visual clues.

I wouldn't travel if I thought DS2 could not cope. The process was not the problem. The checks need to be done. But being physical and aggressive was like taking DS2s hearing aid away IYSWIM.
Not necessary and just caused a shit stornm when if I had been able to show him the signs he understood he could have coped fine.

Expecting professionalism fron security staff ought to be a given. It isn't an unimportant job.

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