Indeed, it was one of these contributors who found that the Border Force Operational Manual contained a paragraph that specifically stated that 'Passengers HAVE THE RIGHT to record any interviews' should they be stopped by Border Force.
One can't stress enough how important this is because Border Force will not audio record any Excise interviews ... period! They rely on just the BF Officers notebook and content ... which is often paraphrased and truncated and does not give a true account of the interview. Yet they want passengers to sign this notebook as a 'true and factual account of the interview' ... something no solicitor would ever advise their clients to do.
So more and more people were using this right to record. This has not gone down well with Border Force and they often try to stop the interview being recorded. However, producing these FOI's ( here and here) soon puts a stop to such requests (demands in some cases).
That's all well and good ... but only for visitors to N2D! Why? ... because Border Force are now restricting this information for anybody who does not know of N2D and our files and therefore put in an FOI of their own.
This is what they are not allowing the general public at large to see :-
Note: Officers cannot stop someone if they choose to make a video or audio recording of the
interview themselves using their own equipment such as a mobile phone, video camera etc.
which was later amended to :-
“Note: If a member of the public chooses to use their own recording
equipment, such as a mobile phone or video camera, to make an audio or
video record of the interview, officers cannot prevent them from doing so.
However, officers should try to dissuade individuals from making the record by
explaining that a full and accurate record of the interview will be made and
they will have the opportunity to read, agree or have comments added at the
end of the record.
If an individual persists in making a recording, officers are not obliged to make
any special amendments to their usual business processes or to the location
of the interview in order to accommodate a recording. Similarly, officers are
not obliged to have their image recorded and can politely ask that the use of
recording equipment is directed away from them.”
Border Force are wrongly using Sect 31 of the FOI Act 2000 below in order to keep it from the public :-
"After careful consideration we have decided to withhold some information in the document Civil Excise Interview Guidance as it is exempt from disclosure under section 31(1) sub sections (a) and (d) of the Freedom of Information Act. This provides that information can be withheld where disclosure would, or would be likely to, prejudice the prevention or detection of crime or the assessment or collection of any tax or duty. The guidance reveals activities and techniques that would be likely to assist those wishing to evade our controls and the public interest therefore falls in favour of applying this exemption. Further details about the application of this exemption can be found in Annex A."
Another 'right' they are also witholding is this :-
"If the person says they want to be interviewed but cannot do so at the time (e.g. because they are
on a bus which will leave without them), the goods should be detained and they should be offered
an interview at a later date"
"We have no power to demand their
attendance at the place the goods were detained but neither are we obliged to carry out the
interview elsewhere. However, since the goods and case officer are located where the detention
took place, the person may agree to attend there so their goods can be returned (if they are not
These 'rights' are replace with "[Text withheld by HM Revenue and Customs under Freedom of Information Act 2000, section 31(1)] in this recent FOI 24547
This comes on top of this! Yes those downloads were the FOI's about recording the interviews! (we've now mirrored them)
Looks like we'll be writing to the Information Commissioner :)
When the FOI 24547 was put in requesting if there had been any updates to the procedures etc that Border Force use in interviews etc, it specifically referred the previous FOI's that we have and contain ALL the info they have now restricted!
Errr ... so what they've done is drawn attention to now restricted info that we already know what it is!!!****@@!** Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!
Since when did public rights become sensitive material? lol