Friday, 1 January 2010

Aviation security under the spotlight, AGAIN...

Gordon Brown's announcement today that the UK will "move quickly" to enhance airport security strikes me as shutting the door after the horse has bolted. Aviation security is always reactionary - locking flight deck doors after 9/11, banning large bottles of liquids after the transatlantic liquid bomb plot. Now, we have various kneejerk measures including a ban on leaving your seat in the last hour of flight (?!) How on earth that's supposed to stop a determined terrorist, I have NO idea. But it would be hell for pregnant ladies like me, I can tell you!

No, what needs to happen now should have happened years ago. We need to get rid of our feelings of prudishness and a slightly skewed interpretation of human rights, and bring in body scanners and passenger profiling at every airport.

I know that some people feel that body scanners invade our privacy, but really, I feel the security benefit and lack of hassle involved far outweighs the unease some feel about others seeing what they look like under their clothes. And as my Dad says, it will be worse for the person checking the scans than for him! In all seriousness, the scanning technology currently being trialed in the UK at Manchester Airport involves technicians in totally separate rooms with no view of the security area merely flagging up issues to their colleages on the ground if necessary. Therefore they have no idea who they're looking at on these scans, and even if they did, how quickly would they get bored? At some point during the first day, I bet. After all, we're all pretty similar underneath! And when you consider how useless a metal detector is against today's terrorists (they don't tend to favour grenades and knives these days) I think body scanners represent the only realistic way forward, whether you're offended by them or not. And just think for a second.. No need to take off your belt and shoes, no need for a pat down... I know which option I'd prefer!

And as for passenger profiling - this has been largely shunned due to fears that certain sectors of society will feel victimised by it. But without getting into statistics here, lone male travellers and people of particular faiths and lifestyle (which of course depends on the motive for terrorism at a particular time) have been shown to be the greatest risk. What's so wrong with asking a few extra questions? True, determined bombers could try to get round this by, God forbid, bringing their families with them, etc, but it's worth a try. I think most people would be prepared to put up with a little extra hassle if it makes them safer.

So, that's what I think. Clearly my view is influenced by the fact that my husband flies planes for a living, and that I'm a frequent flyer myself.

What do you think?


  1. I whole heartedly agree with everything you say - it is unfortunate that these circumstances have resulted in national security agencies being reactionary and drawing wrong conclusions. With the most recent security attack in the US, the pundits were saying that based on our history, the next logical step would not to profile individuals with known extremist tendencies (the most recent attempted attack in the US was perpetrated by a guy whose own father reported him to authorities!) and ties to terrorist organizations, but rather to target their tactics and search underwear. Sure enough, the local airport near us is now getting body scanner devices. And to your point, the terrorists are very determined. Just seems like we are only addressing half of the issue.

  2. I have issues with the scans as they happen in the States at the moment, but I am not completely opposed to the idea. I just dont think that every single scan should necessarily need to be looked at by a human being; Bf and I both feel that these scans could almost certainly be done in an automated way, with only the 'abnormal' scans to be scrutinised by the human eye. I also think that people would object less if the scan were conducted by a nurse for example, than some security muppet with a chip on his shoulder.




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