Visit Britain. Or rather not!

Dear Reader,

I have criticized and made fun of the TSA and the American security theater. And if you believe Glynsky, you should not come here. He refuses to travel to the US.

And what about Britain? From many instances we know, that the Brits are following the US American lead constantly. When we go to war, the Brits follow. When we start spying on the world, our obedient poodle even does the dirty work for us.

So what is it like to enter Great Britain? Here is a report of my last experience. (Sorry, no video footage, that’s verboten!)

Arriving by car in France at the ferry, I have to hand over my passport (1st time) to the ferry operator for electronic checking. At the same time the car license plate is screened electronically and photographed. I am on camera and all data is stored. And, as we learned from the NSA revelations by Edward Snowden, it is passed on to various agencies of France, the UK, the rest of the EU and the USA. Thanks to theĀ five eyes agreement it also goes to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

Next stop, French border patrol. Again my passport is screened (2nd time), I am checked, and can go. A mere 20 yards further, the UK border patrol. Yet another passport check (3rd time). How the passport could have changed in the mean time, beats me. Now I am done, right?

No. After another hundred yards a person, not in uniform, blocks my way. Since I arrived after dark and the guy is wearing all black clothes, I could have run him over. While I think: “Risky move, man”, he orders me in barely understandable English – heavy French accent – to open my trunk, what you Brits call boot. I kindly ask him, who he is. He shows me some picture ID with “authorized security officer” on it. Now, I could make and print one just like that within less then ten minutes, but I am not in a mood for an argument. So I open my trunk and my car is searched.

Without further ado I get on the ferry and after an uninterrupted crossing, get off the boat.

Great Britain, here I come, right? Wrong.

From there on it got ugly. And I mean really ugly. As in worse than American ugly.

While driving through the port, cars are screened by camera as well as humans. At least they look like humans. But human behavior isn’t part of it.

A woman stops my car and directs me to drive into a hall. There are about 8-10 men standing on one side, now blocking the entrance I came in through. They are chatting, not paying attention. On the other side are three policemen, armed, observing. The hall is locked, I cannot get out. Great fun for any claustrophobic.

The woman comes to my window and – without hello or introduction – starts barking questions.

Who am I? She wants to see my passport and keeps it. Where am I coming from? When did I leave? Do I have round trip tickets? I show her my tickets, which she takes out of my hands too.

What is the purpose of the trip? Where did I stay? Where will I stay in the UK? Calmly I answer her questions. Like a machine gun she continues barking more questions at me.

Is this my car? She demands the registration and keeps that one along with my passport and tickets.

When she starts questioning me about the people I have met on my trip and those, I intend to meet, and demands their data, I had enough. This is over the top and I ask for her name, to identify herself. She yells at me, that I am to answer questions, not to ask any.

At that point I think: Hitler would be proud. His ideas got adopted in the UK after all. And it keeps getting worse.

After being cooperative for long enough, I ask the woman two questions:

“Am I under arrest?” She replies: “No.”

“Am I free to go?” Instead of a reply she barks her questions again.

Since the woman is not answering, I alternate between asking for her ID, whether I am arrested, or whether I am free to go. The only answer I get is, that I am not arrested. After asking for her ID a third time, she storms off to the group of men. On the back of her coat I can see “Border Force”.

The whole time no other car has been pulled out.

After some debate she comes back with a man.

Neither does the man introduce himself, nor does he tell me what this is all about. At least he tells me what he calls “his number”. When I reach for my phone to make a note, he yells: “You are not allowed to use a phone!” I ask, whether I might take a note on paper, and he allows it. But no phone, no calls, and no recording of what is going on. Then he continues: “Answer the questions. Thereafter the officer will give you her number”.

I inform him, that I did answer her questions, and that she has my passport, registration, etc. And then I ask him: “Am I under arrest?” To which he says: “No”. But when I ask: “Am I free to go?”, comes the surprise:

“You are not going anywhere, until we are done with you.”

In my many years of travel I have never been threatened. The Brits are making the Stasi look harmless. Neither in the former GDR, nor in former Czechoslovakia, nor any other country, which one could consider an oppressive regime. Nobody ever tried to bully me. Great Britain provided the worst border experience ever.

From the report about Glenn Greenwald’s boyfriend I know, that the UK now holds people up to three days. No warrant needed, it is not considered an arrest. Never mind habeas corpus, forget about freedom of movement. You do not have the right to a lawyer or counsel. No phone call. Just locked up and interrogated. And now I know what it feels like, to be threatened with that. Three days is a long time. A lot can happen within three days. Could you afford to be held this long? Would you dare, without a lawyer or witness present?

Since I do not want to stay there, I answer the next questions. These are different now, not about my contacts. Whether this is due to her superior being there or not, I don’t know. She asks whether I am transporting drugs, arms, explosives. Yeah, I would totally admit to carrying that. What morons.

My papers are checked electronically again (4th time). And my trunk is searched again.

After more than an hour of interrogation I am given back my possessions and told I could go. In addition the male officer hands me a “feedback form”, where I can write to the “Home Officer” with “praise or complaint”.

Praise? Really? For what? For behaving like total assholes? For lacking any manners? For threatening me? And all my British friends tell me, sending a complaint would not make a difference. Probably it wouldn’t be read anyway.

Nice country you got there, Brits. Sorry, you are worse than America.

And since you choose to ignore EU human rights laws, why don’t you leave the EU? Maybe start a union with North Korea, since you are heading that way.

I don’t think you will see me again anytime soon.

Stay sane,

Engine Room

13 thoughts on “Visit Britain. Or rather not!

  1. My first reaction was:

    I do feel for you, and something so trivial shouldn’t deter you from a country, Martin Luther king had many bad dreams before he had that really good one. It’s comes with life.

    My second reaction was:

    Stop driving places you hobbit!



  2. Wow, that was impressive ER. If I was a UK Taxpayer, I could be happy that our Government treats security seriously.
    I totally agree with Casper. Fly !!!!! It is much easier and quicker.
    Today, Almaty to Tashkent, and 40 degrees waiting for me and a Gin and Tonic on the plane.

  3. I must admit I do have a problem with rudeness by our officials.
    Every time I go through Heathrow terminal 5, I get treated like a suspected bomber, when most of the security team look like bombers.
    Even border control eye you with suspicion and look like illegal immigrants.
    I know most of these people are probably born in the UK, but is it too much to ask for politeness and a cheery hello.
    I was questioned by a nice lady whilst in transit, who had to call her supervisor for clarification. he looked like he had just arrived from Kabul and didn’t even give a member if his team the courtesy of speech, just a shake of the head.
    I have been warned by Mrs Druid to keep my mouth shut and my comments to myself, though I find it difficult, but we know the consequences, maybe the rubber glove treatment.
    Friday rant over

  4. There is nothing like a good rant on a Friday, when the weekend is in front of you.
    This morning, I left from Almaty Airport and flew to Tashkent Airport. Both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have “problems” with human rights issues and unbelievable bureaucracy. Everything was perfect and quick, and they even laughed at my effort with Kazakh and Uzbek language.

  5. See Engine Room – one thing shines through. The inbred assumption by the commentators that anyone who has been (and is) born British is a bit luckier than anyone else in the whole world. And usually it is true.
    However driving at night to cross back to the UK on a number of occasions I have had similar (I stress ‘similar’) experiences up to ‘the woman starts to bark’.
    Several times I was driving a large van having collected or delivered goods to France and each time got searched umpteen times – which I always put down to an effort to ensure that I was not exploiting the ‘illegals’ camped all along the French coast. In a car it was much gentler – but still worse than in daylight.
    Without choosing to suggest you are developing greater paranoia I would say that the situation may have been aggravated by:
    Man alone (being electronically observed on a number of occasions back and forth – your epic drives to and from are nuts) travelling at night.
    ‘Innocent’ older type cruise saloon (possibly assumed to be an attempt to not stand out).
    Increased/heightened security for reasons unknown.
    You look like someone they are looking for.
    But, these are just platitudes – what was an absolute disgrace was the way you were addressed with no intro, no ‘sir’, no reasons – and deliberate verbal intimidation. That, fellow Brits, is completely outrageous, unacceptable and, to my shame, is but another confirmation of our craven country’s bowing to the wishes of the war lords from over the pond. Mind you, British Immigration and Customs employees (paid for by me, employed on my behalf and apparently working for my benefit) have rarely exhibited a spark of civility in public for years.
    I feel a post coming on so maybe will reflect before putting finger to letter.

  6. Dear Glynsky
    That was actually one of your better and more intelligent comments. I am in total agreement with you as after all, they are only doing their jobs to protect us.
    As for ER, he can stay in USA, the land of the free !!!

  7. Gosh – strong stuff here!

    I don’t know your border crossing habits, but it astonishes me that the border control adopt such a riduculous attitude with no foundation for it. It’s another thing if they found something to bark about. I have to say I’ve lways been treated fine, even when trying to smuggle too much of everything in before it was legal.

    The EU never did illiminate passports and since 9/11 we all have to suffer indignation and frustration due to a few crazy people. Still there is a lot more to do in keeping out those we don’t want here and needs to start now.

    Don’t give up on us ER!!!

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