Skip to comments.France bans Britain's migrant X-ray scanner... because it might breach health and safety
Posted on 01/23/2008 9:07:26 AM PST by Lorianne
British border guards in Calais have been banned from using X-rays to search for illegal immigrants in lorries - unless they ask for the stowaways' written permission.
French authorities have blocked the use of the scanners, claiming they could breach European health and safety laws.
They have told British immigration officials that if they want to use the machines they will first have to clear it with those they are looking for.
Given that the illegal immigrants do not want to be found, the chances of reaching such an agreement are zero, leaving the British no choice but to stop using the machines.
Immigration officials are said to be baffled by the decision.
The scanners - which have helped cut the number of illegal immigrants arriving in Dover by 88 per cent - emit less radiation than an ordinary hospital X-ray and are used elsewhere in Europe with great success.
The ban was also criticised by hauliers and politicians last night. Adam Holloway, Tory MP for Gravesham in Kent, said: "This appears extremely convenient for the French authorities who, once again, have come up with an excuse to move the problem of immigration control over to British soil.
"It is also yet another clear example of European Union overregulation."
Thousands of illegal immigrants come to Britain from France every year.
At Calais up to 1,000 gather every night, attracted by the short crossing and by the free food and shelter.
Although the notorious Sangatte camp was shut down five years ago, plans are being drawn up by the local council to open a second similar facility.
The immigrants' favoured way of crossing the Channel is to break into lorries which are waiting to make the crossing.
In a bid to combat this problem, in 2002 the French allowed the British to set up their own immigration controls in Calais.
Along with thermal-imaging devices and carbon dioxide detectors, British officers have been using gamma-ray scanners.
These £2million X-ray machines are run along the length of a lorry and create a detailed picture of its contents, removing the need for a physical search.
They have proved so effective that since their introduction the number of illegal immigrants caught in Dover fell by 88 per cent to 1,500 in 2006.
Any reduction in checks at Calais could see the numbers soar back up. The Government says the health risks are non-existent.
Anyone scanned receives a radiation dose equivalent to less than a thousandth of the background radiation they would normally receive in a year.
Officials say the scanners actually save lives because by finding stowaways they prevent deaths or health problems in transit.
But the French ordered the British to stop using the scanners after they re-examined European regulations - Euratom - which are designed to protect the public from radiation.
Everywhere from dentists to airports are affected by the initiative, which started last month.
A British Government source said: "The French have interpreted the regulations to say that written permission is needed from an individual before they are scanned.
"The UK does not think that is necessary and nor do the Belgians where we also operate one of these scanners."
He added: "The gamma ray scanners emit less radiation than ordinary hospital X-rays - we can't see what the problem is."
Another source in the immigration service added: "One can only assume that the French have got cold feet about this because they are worried about being sued for compensation by the illegal immigrants."
A Home Office spokesman said that while the scanners cannot be used, officials are still focused on checking lorries for migrants.
Words are not necessary.
I don’t suppoe there is any way for the British to cause France enough pain that they would reverse this decision, eg. “inspections” of critical French imports from Britain, etc?
So what happens if they do find a stowaway, get permission to use the x-ray, but do not use it because they now know there are stowaways in the lorrie? Will French courts then decide the stowaways civil rights were violated because they were coerced into giving away their location?
Yup, frogs have very tiny brains.
I suppose the solution would be to create a staging area in Britain for all traffic from France to await inspection. They can take their sweet time as the drivers are allowed to leave, but the trucks can stack up as the inspectors take their sweet time on the inspections using whatever methods they choose.
Enclosing the trucks in a warehouse and releasing tear gas would be quick and effective.
Stoways are in more danger from from bad driving of the lorry drivers and from not wearing seatbelts and not being seated in passenger seats than by the X-rays.
That won’t work, as once they are on UK soil, it’s our problem.
When we catch them in France, it’s the Frnch problem, though they just let them go, to try again. That’s why they don’t want the X-Ray machine, it works too well.
No wonder we fought them fo 100 yrs.....
I don’t get it, why don’t they just scan on the English side at Dover?
I would think that a warning saying ‘you will be blasted with radiation AND found’ would deter illegals at an almost 100% rate.
But then again, it’s the French.
That settles it.
If they can’t use Xrays then they will be forced to switch to microwaves.
How do they get across? Ferry?
Have they never heard of implied consent? Just post signs, vehicles will be x-rayed, and a person being in a vehicle implies consent.
I wish they wouldn't give our government any ideas.
Those who are illiterate and cannot write cannot give written consent.
In the US, some judges would then say that they are entitled to a government appointed translator in the language of their choice...
I believe that's the idea. CrazyCat nailed it in #7.
The immigrants are on their way out of France. Let them burden the British welfare and social services system.