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Air cargo screening gaps threaten security

Posted in Talking Politics

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Published on January 09, 2015 with No Comments

Better oversight, training, and detection technology are needed to keep illicit drugs and other contraband from slipping into the country in air cargo, an internal audit says.

The Canada Border Services Agency audit says the findings are significant because commercial air cargo accounts for about one-quarter of all arriving shipments.The audit team visited the high-volume airports in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal as well as three unidentified smaller ones in their study of the agency’s air cargo examination program.

Regional border services officers scrutinize incoming goods, decide whether to allow them entry and take action if they discover violations.The audit report, dated last July, was only recently made public. Portions of the document — including details of some risks posed by deficiencies — were considered too sensitive to release.

The audit reveals that another, earlier internal review identified “gaps” related to training, technology and six other areas.As a result, a plan to address the problems was developed. The border services agency did not make anyone available Tuesday for an interview.

However, the report spells out the border agency’s plans for improvement, including:

  • Stronger communication between headquarters and the regions
  • Improved quality of examination results recorded by field officers
  • Revised national training for officers
  • Purchase of new detection technology for the highest-risk air cargo locations by March of this year.

“It should be noted that the absence of detection technology does not prevent effective examinations as borders services officers are appropriately trained to conduct examinations without such technology,” the management response says.But the agency allows that “its presence improves the efficiency of examinations.”


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