WHEELER INQUIRY INTO AIRPORT SECURITY FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF AUSTRALIA
The Rt Hon Sir John Wheeler DL
© Commonwealth of Australia 2005
ISBN 1 921092 15 7
FULL PDF DOCUMENT DOWNLOAD LINK: [CLICK HERE]
BACKGROUND & SUMMARY:
Schapelle Corby, whom was arrested and subsequently convicted of drug smuggling offences in May 2005 in Denpasar, Indonesia. Ms Corby publicly denied the charges against her, claiming in her defense that she was the victim of baggage tampering activity within Australia’s airport system. Subsequent media reports created great public concern over the safety of baggage transportation services in Australia. In response to this outcry, the Federal Government of Australia commissioned the Wheeler Report to investigate the state of security within Australian aviation infrastructure and services. Sir Robert Wheeler released his findings in September 2005 and concluded that:
- Airports within the Australian environment provide key targets for crime and terror offenders.
- A culture of crime tolerance and absence of effective policing existed within areas of the airport environment.
- Inter-jurisdictional difficulties and lack of co-ordination between authorities created opportunities for criminals and terrorists to operate.
- Some airport staff had records of past criminality or ties to organized crime and casual or contract workers were not security screened at all.
- These and other weaknesses suggest that crimes could occur within the airport environments.
As a result of the report and to redress growing public concern, Standards Australia (the entity responsible for industry best practices within Australia) founded a forum of industry experts to discuss designs to enhance luggage safety. The principals of Securoseal attended this forum and while many solutions were offered, nothing solved the problem of ‘concealed zip breach’ of luggage that was demonstrated by a member of the Federal Police at that time. The forum concluded without any definitive solution to this risk, so no Australian Standard was formed. Instead, Standards Australia only released the following summary on 31 August 2005 to assist travelers in reducing this risk:
It should be noted that the risk of luggage interference and theft will never be completely eliminated, however there are measures travellers and indeed manufacturers can take to mitigate risk. Some initial advice to travellers includes:
Pack your own suitcase.
Don’t pack valuables in the luggage you check in, take them in your carry-on luggage.
Suitcases and bags made with hard casing or durable fabrics are best for withstanding the hard knocks of transit.
Suitcases with built-in locks are preferable, as they are less likely to snag on baggage sorting devices and carousels.
All zips can be opened so fewer zips are better than lots of zips.
The fewer pockets and compartments the better - if you have pockets and compartments make sure they are lockable.
Lock your luggage. This includes cabin luggage in overhead lockers.
Don’t leave your luggage unattended.
Luggage with built in security devices and built in security nets are better than ad-hoc security measures.
Be aware that your bag is likely to look very similar or identical to another - make sure your bag can be easily identified so that you don’t accidentally pick up a bag someone else packed.
Consider using security seals (in addition to locks which deter entry), as they will help you to identify and prevent tampering.
Travellers, particularly backpackers should consider the security of their luggage throughout their entire trip, this includes on buses and while staying at hostels. Luggage incorporating security mesh or the use of external nets can assist with this.
Plastic wrapping of luggage can be effective on single leg journeys. On journeys with multiple legs a combination of an specially designed outer plastic bag with tamper evident seals are a good alternative.
Realising that no solution existed to the problem of undetected tampering of luggage in aviation environments, Securoseal subsequently directed its efforts to engineering a device that would solve this need. After a comprehensive process of materials selection (including co-operation with market leaders such as 3M and DuPont), design refinement and real time testing in baggage handling systems both locally and internationally, the Securoseal tamper evident luggage seal was submitted internationally for patent claims and partially released for passenger use in 2009. The initial release was limited, to ‘road test’ seals to ensure that their performance in real world environments matched system trials. No indications of malfunction were received for any device sold to the public. In January 2010, official trials were conducted in South Africa in co-operation with Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) and South African Airways. Prior to FIFA World Cup, the concern over luggage crime in Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport was making headlines. Using South African Airways most affected routes, we sealed all luggage items and assisted their security staff in detecting tampering activity in real time. The use of the Product coupled with improved security protocols lead to the virtual cessation of criminal tampering, and the result made headlines in the local media.
Securoseal has been used ever since by travellers globally as a solution to the concerns over undetected tampering activity in aviation environments.