Barbados Customs Officers, security cameras and Red Caps. What’s the connection?

“According to today’s Nation – Customs Officers at GAIA are to protest the installation of security cameras in the arrival hall. Well, what do you know? Every Barbadian knows of the collusion between the red caps and the ‘officers’ – so naturally they don’t want their game caught. Let’s wait and see if the government will buckle to corruption once again.”

Sent to BFP by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous

Barbados Customs personnel demand zero accountability and oversight

Customs officers are upset that the newly-installed video cameras at the airport also have audio or eaves-dropping capacity and they are “insulted” that another agency is monitoring them.

We’ve got news for our insulted Customs officers… having another agency monitoring them increases the likelihood that if anything bad or criminal is seen, something might actually be done about it. Maybe now something will be done about the informal “wink and nod” arrangement that lets Red Cap baggage handlers walk about the place like they own it. Hmmmmm… I wonder why the customs officers allow the Red Caps to do that anyway? Any ideas?  😉

Have a read of The Nation article Customs officers protest cameras in Arrival Hall


Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Police

76 responses to “Barbados Customs Officers, security cameras and Red Caps. What’s the connection?

  1. Same proposal & reaction happened years ago at Port and Customs won then too 😦

  2. Peltdownman

    The government needs revenue, and the most popular method of evading duties and VAT is via baggage and barrels, with millions of dollars-worth of goods passing through customs without even a cursory inspection. No matter, it’s so much easier to go after the established businesses and nickel and dime them to death over a few VAT errors.

  3. Airport Guy

    The Civil Aviation act makes the airport authority legally responsible for security at the airport. It is accountable to the Director of Civil Aviation who can sanction them if the standards are not upheld.

    There is no where in law that excuses H.M. Customs from being subject to airport security, or allows the airport to delegate the responsibility for a secure airport to Customs or anyone else.

    Apart from the Director of Civil Aviation the Airport is audited annually by several international bodies (ICAO etc.) failure of an audit could result in penalties for Barbados as a whole.

    Customs is in the wrong here.

  4. CORRUPT, doan fool yuhself!

    Maaaan, dem camera’s gyne mess up all o’ we fun.. LOL!

  5. yatinkiteasy

    Where were the cameras when several cars were taken out of the Bridgetown Port without any duty or Vat being paid? The story came out a while ago…since then , Silence.

  6. Head man

    What happen to the 11 MOLLION dollars container,no news on it,who or which customs broker paid the duties.

  7. whistling frog

    If i were innocent of any wrong behaviour,man I would say,”Heck put cameras all over it really dont mean Jack Squat to me,why in most countries its a normal thing “.But,,,,but on the other hand if I were into dipsydoodaling,,,taking a bribe,,,letting through some contraband etc,etc,…IWOULD SHOUT OUT VEHEMENTLY,,,,,,”NOT A RASS CLAT UH THAT,IS ME RIGHTS NOT TO LET NO RASS CLOT BODY CHECK PUN ME ILLEGAL RIGHTS,,,,,,BOOOOOHEY,,,,BOOOOHEYYY,,,…YA BLOOD RAS CARRY YUH BLOOD CLOT CAMERA AND SHOVE IT!!!!!!!!!

  8. bullheads

    @ Aiport Guy
    Quote the section of the Civil Aviation Act. In the Customs areas all over the world no Airport Authority operates cameras within the Customs Area.

  9. The Watcher

    Airport Guy

    You seem to be on the money here with your comments. I was attempting to find out the mandate of HM Customs is in relation to a Port of Entry. What I was able to find, and you clarified what I wasn’t, was that they are NOT responsible for security. So it begs the question, ” Why are they insulted by tis action?” If COW and his buddies installed cameras down Port St.Charles would they be as offended?
    If our airport fails one of its inspections, or worst yet is seen as a trans-shipment point for illegal activities, we will loose a whole lot more than the well “greezed” pockets of a few astronomically myopic civil servants with bigger ego’s that IQ’s!
    GAIA can place cameras where they like in their facility. If Customs doesn’t like it, they can all walk out and so will the passengers and revenue.

  10. bajan4life

    They don’t want the cameras because that would expose all of their wrongdoings. I ain’t care who please or vex, wunnah customs officers to damn tiefing, thats right tiefing. Btw lol@whistling frog true thing.

  11. 18

    On the 19th June 2010 you posted a picture of a customs officer sleeping in the departure lounge, is this what customs are afraid of people seeing, or is it they don’t want people seeing/hearing the red caps asking tourists to buy duty free booze for them, which is then placed in the car hire office for collection later??

    I’m not a huge fan of over surveillance, but in an airport it is a must & the monitors should not be the customs people so as to prevent corruption. Again is this the fear, they don’t want monitoring. The Customs officers complaints should raise serious questions.

    Given that a large amount of cocaine was stopped in Canada, having left here, Customs needs CCTV.

  12. bullheads

    @ Airport Guy
    You missed the point.What authority in the Civil Aviation Act gives authority for placing cameras in the Customs Area.The Airport Inspections have nothing to do with cameras in the examination area. Quote the section of the Act.

  13. Airport Guy


    There is no special exemption anywhere in any act that says that Customs is not subject to, or exempt from the security requirements at the airport.

    The customs officers argument is not based on any legal support or standard. It is basically “We don’t want cameras”

    As per the Civil Aviation Ammendment Bill passed in 2007. The two agencies who have responsibilities for airport security under law are the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Airport Operator. Section 33 was amended in the 2007 act to insert “Airport Security Officer” into the act. Prior to the 2007 amendments the RBPF was the only agency with legal responsibility for security at the airport.

    Airport Security Officer is defined in the 2007 amendment act as follows: ” “airport security officer” means a person who has
    successfully completed training in accordance with
    the security training requirements of the approved
    Airport Operator’s Security Programme, and who
    has been appointed as such by the airport

    HM Customs is NOT mentioned with regard to security at the airport. They are represented on the National Civil Aviation Security Committee (as are all of the agencies at the airport) but the are NOT in any way responsible for security at the terminal. As such the airport authority is completely within its legal bounds to place cameras in the customs area.

    If such an exemption from airport security exists in the Customs act I would be obliged if you would quote the section. Certainly there is no justification for Customs position in the Civil Aviation act of 2004 or the amendments in 2007.

  14. Airport Guy

    @ Bullhead

    You may also want to read sections 15 and 16 of the 2007 amendments which specifically change sections 36 and 43.

  15. Black Duffel Bags

    Ha! Maybe they don’t want the gravy train to end!!! Entire stores in town are merchandised via BGI and black duffel bags…duty free!!!

  16. Jokers

    May I suggest that we put satelite surveillance on a certain public figure who is allege to be getting draw backs from a certain housing initiative. I think we should start spying on all government officials because them dirty is shyte.

  17. Guilty Guilty

    Guilty guilty guilty
    written all over their actions and reactions to this.

    Laughing Out Loud at Thiefin Customs! CORRUPTION reigns..just like Trinidad!

  18. B FROM bullfoot

    bullheads – August 16, 2010 at 11:11 pm
    @ Aiport Guy You said: Quote the section of the Civil Aviation Act. In the Customs areas all over the world no Airport Authority operates cameras within the Customs Area.

    So who operates them, then?

    Am I to understand that you are saying there are no cameras in Customs areas in the various airports around the world?

    Wise up my friend – there are security cameras in every major airport, in every nook and cranny — including the Customs areas — it’s just they are not conspicuous.

    But you are being watched, my friend.

    Next time you are in the Customs area in Madrid, Buenos Aires, Rome, Chicago, London, Moscow… do something foolish … and see what happens…..

  19. bajan4life

    stuspe, BFP i tired of this post already I want to hear some discussion about the impasse with BAMP.

  20. Hey guys, you are all so concerned only about the red caps collusion with the customs officers.

    That’s small stuff.

    The customers officers regularly take money from people to allow their bags through. So traders and other business people are making customs officers rich and our government is being robbed of a stream of revenue that it desperately needs.

    It might not be possible for cameras to stop this, since this is pre-arranged and the officers collect their money at a later time.

    The cameras are not INSIDE Customs you know. They are INSIDE the arrival hall monitoring the red line and green line area. A place where if any criminal act happens, we can then rely on the cameras to piece together what happened.

    ALso inside the arrival hall there are cameras which monitor the Immigration Officers desk area, but you don’t hear them ever complaining.

    The point is, if you only ever DID what you were SUPPOSED to do and nothing else, then you have nothing to fear from being recorded.

    Customs officers 90% of them are so corrupt in one way or another, be it allowing drugs or dealing taking kick backs.

    And look at their competency, what training is required to be a customs officer? none. SO much drugs/guns coming into our island in the bridge town port and airport, have you ever seen customs seize any? No the only time customs announces a seizure or can pull statistics to show seizures, are seizures based on what the drug squad section of the police force gave to them to seize at the airport.

    in other countries and I am not talking outside our region, in t&t and jamaica, immigration and customs units work as a TRUE law enforcement entity, they to investigations and they prosecute persons before the court.

    Here the police do 100% of customs/immigration work that need to go before the courts. Even though the customs act gives the comptroller the power to delegate people to fine people or hear cases.

    customs is not responsible for security at the airport, they are responsible for prohibiting contraband, and collection of duties. COntraband is any unlawful thing prescribed under the act. Whether it is a rare plant or drugs.

    Customs department at the airport is not only useless in collecting duties for the government since most of them take kick backs from big businessmen and other small business people, but they are in fact a drain on the government because we have to pay them.

    when someone brings in 100,000 dollars worth of cigarettes, and gives a customs officer 2000, the government loses so much in potential revenue, and this happens daily.

    We all cry down the police, but which other department in government has a complaints department? If a customs officer does you wrong or treats you bad etc… who can you complain to and get satisfaction?

    I say fire the lot of them or transfer them all to the VAT department and let police officers man the counters. At least they would seize drugs and there would be accountability in everything they do, and they wouldnt care how many cameras you have looking down on the area.

  21. @ Bullheads

    man you are laughable. What authority? There’s nothing saying in any act that they can or that they CANNOT place cameras.

    The act simply makes GAIA INC responsible for security and they can then go about that in anyway they see fit.

    Also the aviation ammendment act is built off of international standards, there are and there were certain things that must be in the law and certain powers be given to airport authority as required by international standards.

    and all that discretion is covered under the fact that the act states that the minister requires of the competent authority to make whatever regulations it requires which are law under the act.

    International standards must be adhered to unless you want the airport to be blacklisted as unsafe and there fore certain airlines will no longer travel here thus robbing us of our main source of income tourism, all for the sake that you don’t want to do the right thing.

    haven’t you robbed the government and the people of barbados of enough money over the years? it’s time to stop.

    I guarantee you that what you got away with years ago you will no longer get away with, this is the 21st century, and I welcome you to the power of the people, the blogs. People know what is going on and those who don’t will be informed.

    And no politician is going to put his career on the line for corrupt customs officers.

  22. yatinkiteasy

    Is it true that Barbados has the only International Airport in the WORLD, where red caps are allowed to work and interact with travelers, in what is supposed to be a Customs Secure area?

  23. whistling frog

    Why in heavens name cant what is necessary to do be done…….Just do it.. End of storey full stop……Pass legislation overnight,,it can be done,,I remember when the late Tom Adams Grandmother was killed etc,,,those criminals were hung till their necks popped,,in record time,,,and you know what,,,all those human rights groups ,,,well who gave a *#@% what they thought,,,step on de wire de wire dont bend dats de way de storey end…………..So its the same with cameras at GAIA just do it,,,Tuff luck for those who are Guilty of They Know What They are Guilty Of…..Dooooo Itttttt!!!!!!

  24. bullheads

    Tell me where else in the world cameras are placed in the Customs Areas by any Airport Authority.
    Please tell me then laugh.I await your response.

  25. bullheads

    It is what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”

  26. FlyGuy

    I have been an international pilot for 30+ years. Security cameras in custom halls…as common as broken luggage belts. The installed cameras in BGI airport will be broken within a year & never fixed!!
    Other countries do have the equivalent of ‘Redcaps’ in the customs areas. And by the way…many, many major airports have microphones in the sterile custom areas as well. Wake up Barbados!

  27. bullheads

    @Fly Guy
    Who are the cameras controlled by? Every one knows there are cameras worldwide.It is who has control over them.What happens with the recordings(the end use).

  28. Airport Guy

    Bullheads, you do realise that the plan to site cameras for the airport would have been approved by the National Civil Aviation Security Committee?

    The comptroller of customs is a member of that committee.

    This would have suggested to me that this is not an official position from Customs, but just the “guys on the line”.

    So why would the guys who search peoples baggage have a problem with security cameras when their boss has no problem with it?

  29. Green Monkey

    The installed cameras in BGI airport will be broken within a year & never fixed!!

    Judging by ambulance availability, that assessment is probably not too far off the mark.

  30. Airport Guy

    actually there is now an ambulance that is stationed at the airport. Has been since Olga Stewart died, you usually can see it parked near the parking payment booth.

  31. Ok, I’ll make you a deal bullheads. Let’s remove the cameras, and you remove all the corrupt customs officers at the airport.

    OH SNAP, then there’d be none left, except one or two maybe.

    What’s going to happen if cameras are monitoring you? You don’t seize anyone’s drugs. You don’t stop any contraband. You’re a joke of a ‘law enforcement’ agency.

    In protest at the airport guys, you know what customs is doing? they have closed the green line. And sending everyone through the red line, just to create long lines especially during busy periods when mostly tourists land.

    Wow, I wonder if they will seize something now. Oh wait, nothing yet, but keep trying!

    The problem with customs is they think they are critical like ATC, that they can hold the government ransom until their demands are met, do not be surprised if government does something just as drastic.

  32. bullheads

    don’t just read the papers go to court and see who giving evidence.

  33. IwatchToo

    You mean go to court and watch the customs officer’s give evidence? Evidence that was written for them by members of the drug squad?

    Oh yes I’ve seen the pre-written statements by members of the drug squad, which are then read and signed by the customs officers.

    Let’s see if you can write your own or understand why it’s written the way it is.

    Anyway you avoided the question, if the cameras go will you stop taking kick backs? Will the customs guards stop buying hundreds of packs of cigarettes and drinks etc for sale to third party shops?

  34. bullheads

    Give that info to the police.

  35. bullheads

    I watch too Mr Policeman just get your facts straight.

  36. IwatchToo

    I’d rather we didn’t have to have it come to this.

    You know at least the police can say we are getting rid of ours or doing something about the ones we can.

    I prefer to see a policeman/woman charged, which says to me the force is willing to weed out their bad apples.

    But with the rampant corruption within customs, when was the last time one was charged?

  37. Someday Someone GottaSayEnough

    I can give you alot more.

    but let’s start with this.

    Did you know that customs officers at the airport, in order to protest the cameras, have permanantly closed their green line area. sending everyone to the red line. This creates long lines especially during the afternoon period when tourists arrive.

    People are missing connection flights etc on international flights who are returning from vacation in the caribbean islands.

    can’t the press do anything at all, if you are fed credible inside information?

  38. isn’t that just great, let’s break the country in two by halting tourism and repeat visitors, because we don’t want to be honest.

  39. victor

    Who needs porters? Go to most international airports and unless you are disabled (when you usually get free help) you can get your own luggage trolley and pick up your own luggage from the carousel. You then wheel it to customs and are either checked or let through. The same trolley enables you to go to where you leave the airport. Not Barbados, oh no. The porters pounce on you like vultures. You don’t anymore have the choice to get your own trolley. It’s so third world. Visitors are feeling more and more like goats to be milked. Deals are being made to milk them at every second of their visit to the island. Get you a taxi? Your friend will take a slice of the price. Suggest a restaurant? Expect your bill to be just a little higher, to account for the tip. As for cameras, I say put them all over the airport. Make sure they are recording and set an independent body to examine the footage on a regular basis.

  40. bajan4life

    I would get rid of the whole bunch a them crooks.

  41. bullheads

    If there is all this information give it to the police and the DPP.It is time that people who go on hearsay stop painting everyone with the same brush.There are honest and upright officers who you are seemingly tarnishing with the same brush.It seems that a lot of you are honest and upright and this is commendable. If you are so sure of what you speak then sign your real names .From bibical days until now no one liked tax collectors.If you call persons dishonest and crooks just think about what someone else might be calling you or your family. I do hope most of you are not Christians but if you are judge not less ye be judged.I am always wary of those who do all the name calling but if night would turn to day a lot of people would run away. Jimmy Swaggart used to cry and say “you are not living right” but night turned to day and neither was he.Perhaps it is time that Customs had a PRO so that john public could start to understand the role that customs play in the security of this island.

  42. IwatchToo

    I still see you are doing a lot of redirecting.

    You have answered no questions posed. Will the customs officers (the corrupt ones) stop their wrong doings if the cameras go?

    Will customs set up a section to investigate officers suspected of wrong doing?

    You want people to sign their name to a blog… why don’t you or the good customs officers come forward about your colleague doing wrong things? Or try to pressure them into NOT doing wrong things.

    Customs is such a joke of law enforcement agency it aint even funny anymore.

    You talk about security of a border? Let’s go at something far less important but still questionable, the cars in the port that disappeared or that disappeared over a period of time?

    I suppose it’s port security who let those out right?

    Customs is concerned with the amount of kick backs you can get from business people, and to hell with the rest.

  43. the saint

    The red caps have a right to work for a salary like any one else. For many years they have worked hard as ambassadors at the airport. The redcap did not build the airport they only work in it. The wicked thing about ablog is that there are many out there who use it to attack others because no one knows who there are. Some time ago I went to Jamaica and I notice that the passenger takes the cart to the customs officer , after the officer is finished the porter then takes up the cart . However the distance in Barbados from the customs examination point to the outside is quite a short time unlike Jamaica . We would not want to put anyone out of work . When Airport are being built by us black people we do not consult poor people. The redcaps have to work as best they can

  44. the saint

    The Doctors took industrial action . The Police got sick in large numbers some time ago. Customs Officers have a right to take industrial action to protect their interest.
    Anyone who says that the Customs officers are not part of the Airport Security Aparatus is an idiot. The Civil Aviation Act is not the only piece of legislation.
    At one point the document did not even mention Airport Security.
    The Airport Act and the Civil Aviation act recognises the Authority of the Customs. The Customs Officer have their own act which enpowers them to perform various security fucntions at the Airport. There seems to be an attempt by some to imply that only Airport security and Police have a security role at the Airport. It is sad that some of these people should know better. How can you tell a man he is not part of Airport Security when he has An Act and regulation which clearly spells out his role and responcibility. Is the Comptroller of Customs part of the Airport Security Committee ? Until the Customs Act is repealed the Customs Officers have a right to defend their area of work. Are they Cameras in any Police Stations monitoring the police officers when they do their interviews , training, breifings monitored by G4 or Government Security. Every agency will have some who have sinned. I start bashing the Police or Airport Security but decency dictates that I will not go into the gutter . Professionals know where to air their dirty linen. MONITORING CUSTOMS IS NOT THE ROLE OF AIRPORT SECURITY.
    We always hear talk about ICAO standards. When next they passing through Miami or Puerto Rico go up to the Customs Officer and tell him Customs has no responcibility for Airport Security.
    A Customs Officer in Puerto Rico will have radio , a gun , hand cuffs a drug-dog . We talking about international standards and Airport Security. How come in Barbados we treat Customs Officers like shit and try to reduce their authority at the Port by passing legislation to empower others who at time do not have a clue about their role . The Customs Officers have a right to protest . In some countries Canada , Australia and the US the Customs Officers do the monitoring of the Cameras . .I always thought that the Customs had a good working relation with the Police at the Airport. With respect to the Police assisting the officer with statement writing . That is a petty statement you made . However Police write statements every day . Under the Customs Act the Customs can prosecute thier own cases. However the Customs Management have found it more convinient to all the Police to do it. If the Customs Management was more proactive you would not be able to brag in the press.
    I have learnt the issue is not about Security but some people in high places and agencies who have a difficulty with the powers and authorties Cust. oms Officers . Customs officers have never sought to usurp the authority of any agency. Mark my word trying to tinker with the Customs Act . Giving other Agencies the AUTHORITIES of Customs Officers will not help this country. Mr Policeman years ago a president of the Police Association refered to soldiers as hired killers when it was mooted that soldiers were to perform police duties when the Cops wanted to have protest Action . Any agency has a right to protest if it is felt that the interest or safety of its members can be compromised.

  45. the saint

    The Customs Officers need to enforce the law and then they will get respect . No one likes to pay taxes. Once the goods are taxable when they come to your counter and say I am the Permanent Secretary , I work work Airport Security, I is a Police. Forget the friends thing do your job.Only then will you get respect . Your job is important to . Do your job to the best of your ability.

  46. the saint

    This Camera issue appears to be a joke to some of you. This is your chance to get back at the Customs Officer that charge you duty. You are all focusing on the said indiscretions of the Customs Officer No one ever considered or cares that the officers have concerns about their safety. Customs has about sixty percent women . Unlike the Police the Officers are not armed. Drug interdiction is a large part of their job at the airport. Personel from various entities at the Airport have been caught with drugs at some piont in time. Systems need to be put in place to ensure the safety of these front line officers. Having another agency monitor then does not help. I have known of a situation where a female officer was treatened by drugmen and had to get assistance from the police .

  47. BFP

    Hi Saint

    You make some good points about the Customs Officers and I, Marcus, accept most of them. As much as we all criticize government workers we know that our society needs them.

    Your point about cameras being a safety tool is valid, but there is no reason that both the police and customs couldn’t monitor their own live feeds.

    Perhaps the venom that I see in some of the comments and the ridicule about the Customs people not wanting video cameras is more related to a growing realisation and disgust by the public that there is little or no oversight or accountability in Barbados for persons in authority – whether elected or permanent officials of government.

    When Customs Officers said they didn’t want the independent oversight of any other agency, most Bajans view that as proof that something is going on. We’re fed up with corruption and public officials not having to be accountable. We’re fed up that there are no freedom of information laws to allow citizens to hold government officials accountable if the press or government won’t.

    OK, argue that Customs Officers should be paid more, have more training, be armed and have better resources – and you’ll have 100% sympathy from an appreciative public, but you’re fighting a lost cause by resisting the video cameras and independent oversight. There is zero public sympathy for any organisation or government official who even appears to want to avoid accountability and that’s how the Customs Officers are coming across.

  48. the saint

    Sometimes I wonder if this Customs bashing is politically motivated. They like they want to bring down the government .Customs is the main revenue collection agency . Customs is a very technical area . The public does not have a clue about the role of customs. When I was a child I used to hear Errol Barrow talk about the common external tariff .It is only after I became envolved in Customs that I knew what this was.
    If an officer chooses to be a rogue Cameras controlled by non Customs Officers with no leagal authority will not stop the situation. Inaddition there are several other ways that a trained officer can try to beat the system where camaras will not be of any assistance.
    The Customs Officers have the power to adversely affect this country. They may loose the fight to too have 3 cameras out of 164 cameras at the Airport disabled . However will they forget the way they have been treated by the government.
    A consultant made the statement that in the developed world Customs and immigration officers are paid hansomely so that they would not take bribed ( I am not saying that the ones here take bribes ) .
    When a government treats its front line officers with such disrespect. A happy worker is a more productive worker.
    The Customs regulation states that a passenger should use the most direct route to come to the Customs officer to be interviewed and have his baggage checked. From the time a passenger leaves an Aircraft he is monitored by the Customs. Customs personnel monitor the off loading of the baggage the bags are then escorted to a secure location under Customs supervision. When the baggage go into the Baggage Hall customs personnel have a responcibility for the luggage there. The passeger may be interviewed by the customs . The passenger could be detained or arrested by the customs depending on the circumstances. The person could be given a strip search . His baggage may be inspected if the customs officer thinks it is necessary.Imagine this responcibility and you telling a man that he has no responcibility for Airport Security. A passenger may have bomb making implements on his person or baggage. While certain people monitoring the cameras in reality the customs officers doing the the real home land security. When one looks at the work of the Customs Officer at Ports of entry it is clear that they should have the capacity to monitor every part of the Airport.
    Cameras should not have access to every area. This is a fact . Every agency has an area of their operation which should only be monitored by their personnel. Due to the fact that the area where the passenger are interviewed is opened and not a closed area those unschooled in customs cannot understand the position of the officers . However this area is a very sensitive area of customs operation and it should not be con promised.
    Tell me any part of the world where a private sector agency personnel monitors a government agency ?
    For cricket world cup the Barbados government pass sunset legislation . Police Officers were searched by a private security agency when they entered Kensington Oval . The public say no , you expect a security guard to search the Police . The Commissioners say do not search his men. The barbados government had passed the law , the security were doing there job. Yet we said law or no law bajan police will not be searched. A search is an invasion of privacy.Cameras with todays technology can be more invasive than a search at a security point.
    The Customs Officers are shown no cortesy and when they react they are told that the Airport is trying to adhere to international standards. A Customs Officer authority comes from the Customs Act. The Customs Department / the Airport Security / the IGNORANT PS Finance Layne. Have a responcibility to come to the Customs Officers and explain to them what is going on. They should tell the Customs Officers look we have to do this because of so and so. Courtesy and respect is due to the Customs officers of Barbados. The Customs officers are not being shown any coutesy by the PS Minisry of Finance Layne . If there is international laws which Barbados have signed onto and they conflict with the Customs legislation show the officers. Show us the Sections or provision of the Civil Aviation Act or the ICAO rules or guide lines which say that the Airport Authority should monitor Customsin the Baggage Area . We are willing to learn send us copies of the relevant documents. For years when customs was challenged on any area where we worked . We would send a copy of the relevant extract from the Customs Act to show that we were operating under the law. If the Customs Act is no longer valid at the Airport .Let the Officers know Mr PS Ministry Of Finance William Layne. If the Customs Act is no longer valid let that officers know what they are to be guided by.

  49. the saint

    In reply to Iwatchtoo . It is all about power. He says ‘fire the lot of them. Would you like me to say fire the lot of Policemen or Airport Workers ? He says let the Police Officers man the Counters ” So you want to create Customs/ Police hybrids sounds like a science fiction picture. Do we want Barbados to become a Police state . Some say that we are already a Police State . It seems that you are saying that only policemen can get the job done. Different agencies perform seperate and distinct roles . There are good reasons for this. Do you want the Police to take over Immigration again. Imagine the security risk if you allow the police to perform the role of Customs. You really beleive Airport Security will challenge the Police. Not in this life. Imagine the senario every police , special constable , island constable and traffice warden believe they can flash a badge and breach the Airport Security Protocal. I am saying the Police would protest forcefully to that area being monitored . I am saying if the RBPF were in charge of the Customs area the GAIA would not have the balls to challenge them in any way in fact Dottin boys would be monitoring the the Cameras. iwatchtoo stated at least the the police would hold the drugs . What about the others duties. We are all selected from the same society . We have had an incident where a uniformed Policeman breached the Customs area and took two suitcases and exited the baggage hall . The Shift Leader at the time stopped the cop as he was about to enter a taxi he was bought into the Customs area the suitcases were opened and the contents were found to be ‘herb’.
    Look I have know of persons employed from various agencies being called in connection with drugs. Airport Security, Customs, Police, Maids , Cargo Handlers . each agency will have those who will fall from grace wake stop the customs bashing. You know drugs are being been found in the departures where those who control the Cameras have a greater Security pressence than the Customs . Watch your own to GAIA .

  50. IWatchToo

    the saint you sound like a good person. 🙂

    I will only concede to you that I am taking the issue to personally, and hence come across harsh in my comments.

    I do believe that customs should be armed, I believe also immigration should be armed. How else can we expect customs to act like a law enforcement entity if they are not treated as such.

    The answer is they cannot.

    However, a reform is what is needed and you have to go back to the beginning.

    In order to turn customs into a true law enforcement agency, you have to start from the very beginning.

    1) recruitment, thorough, back ground checks, numerous interviews and checks, to establish (as best as humanly possible) their integrity.

    2) training, structured training course. Relevant laws they should know, and practical training. It should include a kind of psyche training meaning, from DAY 1 you are drilling into these trainees heads, you are LAW ENFORCEMENT. Self defense training and investigative training should be included. Court process/laws of evidence/giving evidence.

    As it is right now what is the requirement to be a customs officer? My guess is and i may be wrong, you apply, if you know someone you get through quicker, you come on as a clerk with 1 bar and you train on the job until an appointment?

    Now imagine people you have in customs for years, you cannot now take them and demand they perform a certain way.

    customs officers want to avoid going to court as much as possible.

    When you want to avoid having cameras placed certain places, like BFP says, the point is it is going to raise eyebrows.

    Remember the cameras are not inside your office, or inside customs, they are inside the arrival hall in a position to see the checking area.

    Immigration also has cameras right above their desks, and they are not complaining and have never complained. Are you silently implying they are not on par with your job and therefore need not be worried?

    As for police and cameras, again the cameras are not inside your offices, so placing a camera inside a police station compared to one inside a public area such as the arrival hall is very different.

    Also the government introduced leglislation in the evidence act for tape recording interviewing of suspects. However, they did not provide the infrastructure at police stations for this to happen.

    Police stations are in such poor condition there is no interview rooms at most of them besides a kitchen. So if the if electronic interviewing is to become standard practice, the government first has to build ‘new’ police stations properly equipped with interview rooms and refurbish the old stations.

    But again that is at the government, the police aren’t going to fight cameras in interview rooms.

    I’ll start blogging about them too.

    I wish customs/police/immigration could amalgamate.

    How would you like to have some police officers over by you working side by side, and you send some customs officers with police. Would give each individual an appreciation for the other persons job.

  51. bullheads

    The Customs Basic Course is six months and also used to be longer.You should also take a look at the Qualification Order and notice the difference needed to be a Customs Officer.Stop pretending to know and get in the know also note that there is no training like on the job training.If you want to comment at least have an understanding of what you are commenting about. When you find out the training ,qualification and knowledge base don’t be ashamed to come and write about it.In addition for your information there are even trained prosecutors.Seek knowledge and stop writing about things which you know nothing about.

  52. the saint

    One of the factors which have adversely affected the Customs Officers from effectively carrying out their law enforcement mandate is that Customs comes under the ministry of Finance. Those in the Finance ministry do not have a clue about law enforcement. You made a query about qualifcations:
    basic CXC including English , maths
    basic Course – was 6.5 months the finance ministry reduced the vote the course is now 3 months. I am sure when the time comes where police are recorded and monitored by cameras they will be controlliing the technology and not some Permanent Secretary or CEO who has nothing better to do than spy on cops in the comfort of their homes. Technology is a serious thing.
    To be promoted to higher levels – associate degrees , diplomas , degrees in law , accounting, Management.
    Many of the Officers have degrees some have Masters and are not being paid the salary of a sargeant.
    The Finance Ministry has not treated the Customs Officers well . It has been several years since Captain Straughn has left Customs and no one has been appointed Comptroller of Customs. There are more actors in the Customs than at any time in the history of the department.
    Many senior officers have gone home in fustration. The officers are not happy.
    The immigration officers should be monitoring immigration. Note there are no cameras were they do their secondary interviews and house detainees . The nature of the work done by customs would make it impossible for the Customs to do their work in the back office . If this were done it would cause stress to passengers. GAIA has no respect for the regulatory agencies at the Airport . Imagine they have a Conference room in the immigration section. This is gross disrespect to that agency. GAIA only tolerates the cops because they need the assistance of the Police on a regular basis.
    The Customs Enforcement Officers should be working together with the Police Drug Squad. However for reasons unknown to me this does not happen .
    Those in the Finance Ministry are not armed so they do not want the Customs Officers armed.
    The Customs and Police have a memorandum of understanding which clearly states how each agency should function at the Airport.

  53. the saint

    The Police system of recruitment is not perfect . There is a lot of nepotism . Brothers, fathers , uncles ,sons , daughters . This is a fact. Come back again iwatchtoo.

  54. bullheads

    @ BFP
    It would be good for you to Check which provision in the ICAO allows for monitoring in the the Customs Areas.The ICAO has its origins overseas and yet no where can i find an Airport Authority monitoring cameras in the Customs.Customs officers are not armed and therfore it is better that the public is not aware of their role. It is my opinion that the monitoring of cameras could compromise the safety of the officers.Wher ther is no vision the people perish i just hope that none of the custom officers do because of the lack of vision by a PS who acted ultra vires by giving permission for the monitoring.

  55. IwatchToo

    Customs has trained prosecutors eh….

    well aint that fancy. How many cases in the last 30 years have you seen a customs officer prosecute.

    Welp I tried to be civil. But no pulling punches now.

    I think the government and the powers that be(TPTB) realise that if they give customs any more authority than they already have, that there would be no end to their corruption.

  56. the saint

    Iwatchtoo , we know that you all watch too. However there is a bibical saying he who is without sin let him cast the first stone. I do hope that all of that anger you have against Customs Officers will some day be released. I will not get into any sparring match since it is futile. However instead of focussing on the Customs use the energy you have to deal with the corruption in your department highlight some of that too– it is said there is alot of corruption there even at the Airport by your coworkers. In time the press and the public will get their turn at you . I am signing off from this blog for good .Peace be unto you and may god bless you and guide you in all that you do.

  57. john

    In June BFP published a picture of a Customs Officer sleeping in the departure lounge, Is this the type of activity the customs don’t want other other people seeing?? Or maybe it’s the Red Caps asking tourists to buy duty free booze for them then take it outside to be collected from the car hire office?? Seen this every time I come through!!

    Airport security is vital for obvious reasons & if customs don’t want surveillance, questions should be asked. Mainly what are they hiding???

  58. Airport Guy

    Ok Saint…..

    much to respond to here so let’s get going

    “Anyone who says that the Customs officers are not part of the Airport Security Aparatus is an idiot. The Civil Aviation Act is not the only piece of legislation.”

    Being part of the airport security apparatus and being legally responsible for the security of the terminal are two separate things. If you can show me in law why Customs should not be subject to the security mandated in the civil aviation act then please do so.

    “At one point the document did not even mention Airport Security.”

    This is because prior to 2007 the airport was a part of central government. With the creation of an airport board, it was legally empowered (and made responsible) IN LAW for security at the terminal. The reason why airport security was not mentioned before 2007 is that it didn’t exist as an independent entity.

    “Until the Customs Act is repealed the Customs Officers have a right to defend their area of work. Are they Cameras in any Police Stations monitoring the police officers when they do their interviews , training, breifings monitored by G4 or Government Security.”

    I have yet to see a statute that says customs is exempt from the larger security programme for the terminal. Or that Customs has any legal “right” to be above being monitored by any other agency.

    The bit about camera’s in police stations is a red herring and not applicable. Police stations are under control of the RBPF. The terminal at the airport is a much more complex situation.

    “Customs officers have never sought to usurp the authority of any agency.”


    Do the officers of HM Customs go through the scanners at the airport when entering the secure area as required by LAW? I could raise other issues but like you I don’t want to go into the gutter.

    “Imagine this responcibility and you telling a man that he has no responcibility for Airport Security. A passenger may have bomb making implements on his person or baggage. While certain people monitoring the cameras in reality the customs officers doing the the real home land security. When one looks at the work of the Customs Officer at Ports of entry it is clear that they should have the capacity to monitor every part of the Airport.”

    The act speaks specifically to passengers, not the greater terminal. Yes there is a National Security role for customs, but not an airport security role. That is WHY customs does NOT have the capacity to monitor every part of the airport. Your refusal to accept the importance of other security agencies at the airport speaks volumes.

    “Tell me any part of the world where a private sector agency personnel monitors a government agency ?”

    Once again a red herring… the role of Airport Security is backed by the laws of Barbados, just like Customs or the Police. Customs’ refusal to accept this is at the heart of this issue.

    “A Customs Officer authority comes from the Customs Act.”

    Just like Airport Security’s authority is enshrined in the Civil Aviation act.

    “Different agencies perform seperate and distinct roles .”

    It is remarkable that you can admit this and still have a problem with cameras.

    You and Bullheads keep asking for a section of law or regulation that allows for cameras in the Customs area. The law empowers agencies to carry out their role in Airport Security and National Security. What you would need to have a legal leg to stand on would be a statute exempting you from the overall security programme. That I have yet to see.

    This seems to have been the presumption of Customs all along… and it is betrayed by comments about how Customs should monitor the entire airport, and disparaging comments about Airport Security and the Police. This presumption is ultimately Customs undoing.

    How can you respect a law enforcement agency that routinely flouts the laws and regulations at the airport? We can talk about being scanned on entry to the secure area, we can talk about parking in areas that have been specified for other purposes and vehicles, we can talk about allowing themselves to be checked at security check points. We can talk about a general pattern of behaviour that lacks any acknowledgment that they are subject to the laws and rules they are supposed to enforce.

    No doubt they are honourable officers in HM Customs who care about their jobs and Barbados, however the general perception of Customs Officers at the airport is that they are “a law unto themselves” and the resistance to security cameras only reinforces that.

  59. bullheads

    It is a pity that you speak with a lot of words and no substance.The ICAO is not about Barbados only it is as the I indicates International. Therefore there is a standard and a best practice world wide so therefore you are missing the point. If you read the Act carefully you would discover that it is mainly targeting terroism. Kindly read the Act in its entireity. Where else in the world does the Airport Authority monitor cameras placed in any Customs Area?

  60. Airport Guy

    Bullhead you are referencing practice in other parts of the world without any facts. I am referencing the laws of Barbados and giving you chapter and verse.

    Customs officers on the line don’t want cameras in the arrivals hall despite their bosses saying that they do.

    This is not about practice elsewhere.

    This is not about the role of Customs in an international airport.

    This is about the officers on the line saying they don’t want cameras despite having no legitimate reason to say so.

  61. bullheads

    The PS is Customs BOSS?

  62. bullheads

    Again where in the Civil Aviation Act 2004 or the amendment 2007 did it refer to monitoring. I did not see the chapter and verse perhaps you are reading the wrong Act.Kindly quote for the benefit of the public. In addition where in the ICAO code of practice is this stated .Kindly produce the facts.Ask Johnson he is aware of them.

  63. Airport Guy


    What i was referring to was the Civil Aviation Security committee on which Customs is represented. They would have reviewed the security plan and approved it.

    The Civil Aviation act also does not make reference to magnetometers, trace detection, sniffer dogs, barbed wire fences, or security checkpoints. Are you going to suggest that they are wrong too?

    Whether you may want to admit it or not, Customs comes under the Ministry of Finance, the Permanent Secretary as head of the Ministry IS your boss.

    You feel that you aren’t subject to his authority either?

    Thank you for once again demonstrating that Customs officers at the Airport feel that they are a law unto themselves and not answerable to anyone.

  64. IWatchToo

    Of course they think they are a law unto themselves.

    They have thought so ever since Charlie Holder was there.

    Airport guy quotes you sections and paragraphs of law, you fire back ignorant rhetoric with no substance, all along the lines of customs being monitored.

    The cameras are inside the arrival hall. Monitoring an area designated as a customs area. Not belonging to customs. Customs area meaning an area where customs powers come into full and indisputable enactment, re: searching of passenger luggage for contraband.

    Again you walk around the airport without being scanned.

    There is no law absenting you from screening by security. It says all persons entering secure areas. it did not make an exception for customs.

    However in the airport screening act it makes an exception for police officers who are ‘on duty’ to be exempted from screening.

    Face it buddy, you aren’t well read, and you are just talking what you hear your airhead friends at customs talking.

  65. bullheads

    Quote law not hearsay.The PS is not customs Boss he is not even mentioned in the Act.I still have not seen any sections mentioned. Just talk, hearsay not admissable.When you have read the relevant Act and can quote some sections that gives the AUTHORITY then people will understand.A lot of words mean nothing bring substance.

  66. bullheads

    What is the Airport Screening Act Cap?

  67. Airport Guy


    like it or not, your boss’ boss is your boss. Otherwise someone with a supervisor between him and the comptroller could argue that the comptroller was not his boss.

    Of course I don’t expect you to admit it because then you would have to admit you were subject to SOMEONE’S authority!

    You keep calling for Acts and Sections, but you have yet to put forward a single section supporting your argument that Customs should be exempt from being monitored or screened in any way by anyone other than Customs. The reason for this is that you DO NOT HAVE a single legitimate argument for your position. Just talk.

    And that is what the officers’ position in this whole mess is….

    Just talk

    We don’t want cameras and if you put them there we are going to hold the country’s tourist industry to ransom and threaten the livelihood of thousands of Bajan families because we don’t want anyone seeing what we do.

    That is not the action of a responsible group of people.

    It’s more like something I would expect from a 3 year old.

  68. Airport Guy

    What BFP needs to do is an article on the actions of Customs on a day to day basis at the airport. No one checks customs officers going into the secure areas. They won’t let them.

    I heard once a Customs supervisor nearly ran over an Airport Security guard in his car who was just doing his job.

    BFP do some digging and you will see.

  69. IwatchToo

    that customs officer in question was charlie holder.

    who indeed ran over a security guards foot at the gate.

    where the gate clearly states all persons are required to stop for a security check. Charlie didn’t stop.

    Anyway not like we can do anything about people like the former charlie because they all have friends in high places.

    People who have gotten up at 2a.m in the morning to make 6a.m flights, and then spend 10 hours on a plane, go through Immigration and now have to spend hours in line because Customs is aggrieved over a non issue.

    That is why I say fire them all

    To me you don’t even bring in enough income at the airport to justify the damage to our tourist industry.

  70. bullheads

    It is now clear that you have or had a grouse with a retired man .It has been over two years since he retired its time to let go .I feel your pain.
    It is clear that you are blindly watching eyes wide shut.Just open your eyes leave out envy and jealousy and let the light shine through.

  71. yatinkiteasy

    Is there an organized scam going on at the airport, whereby visitors are being made to pay duty on 200 or less cigarettes ? Is someone pocketing this money. I dont believe the allowance of 200 has been changed.All websites I have seen on this state 200 are allowed. Can anyone shed some light on this?

  72. bullheads

    The allowances for cigs were stopped.

  73. rugrat

    How come that with all the allegations of police brutality cameras were never or aren’t being installed in the police stations; where customs or another agency can monitor or have access to dispell these rumours

  74. rugrat

    What is the modicum of income that “iwatch2″contribute to the treasury to justify the position u hold

  75. IwatchToo

    haha rugrat you sound like another uninformed fool.

    Government would be responsible for installing the cameras in the police stations.

    Secondly there are no cameras inside customs offices. Only in an arrival area.

    thirdly, cameras for interview rooms were proposed. Do you expect the police officers themselves to buy them and install them?

    With the amount of money customs steals they probably contribute no more than the courts who fine persons brought before them by the police.

  76. James Jones

    Perhaps one of the customs officers here could explain how so many customs officers have accumulated such large financial resources in a very short time?

    Is there any truth in the rumour that customs officers objected to police dogs in the arrivals hall?

    Is there any truth that certain Barbadians where targeted by certain customs officers in a certain way?

    Why is it that the enforcement section of customs not feared by certain elements in customs as was the case a few years ago?

    What is the comptroller doing to establish the trust of Barbadians in his department?

    Why have successive governments fail to tackle this perceived problem?