How do officers decide which passengers to examine or search?

Moving more than 20 million passengers annually through international airports and seaports while protecting Australia’s border is a major challenge.

No Departmental examination or search is randomly conducted. Risk assessment techniques are employed to identify which passengers will be examined or searched.

All movements across the border are screened by the Department  using a range of intelligence, targeting and profiling techniques. Illicit cross-border activity may be identified and intercepted as a result of profiling, specific information received from a variety of sources, operational activity or a combination of these.

To improve passenger processing, some Departmental checks are done before an aircraft even leaves for Australia. Airlines provide the Department with advance notice of passenger details, which are analysed to identify risk factors. The Department also accesses and evaluates information held in airline reservation systems to identify passengers who might be a risk to Australia’s border security.

In addition to assessing passenger details, the Department also applies advanced technology to complement these other layers of risk assessment. X-ray units are used at airports to scan most baggage of passengers arriving into Australia. The Department's national closed-circuit television (CCTV) network also operates at all airports to assist in identifying suspicious activity. Additionally, the Department deploys detector dog teams to airports to assist in the detection of narcotics and explosives.

Any or all of these methods may be used to decide which passengers the Department examines or searches.

Related:

Going through the border