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Roll back excessive airport security

Comment 2nd July 2010

Roll back excessive security searching at British airports.  Ordinary passengers are being routinely harassed and humiliated for no good reason.  Any search short of a full body search is by definition ineffective, so we should just accept that there will always be a degree of risk, and go back to metal detectors only for most travellers.  A full body search should only be authorised if there are genuine grounds for suspicion, and there should be a right of appeal and compensation for wrongful searching.  Searchers should wear visible identification.  Most passengers should be able to pass through security unmolested, and this would not make us any less safe.  Don't forget security searches didn't stop 9/11, nor did they prevent the shoe bomber, sort drinks bombers or underpants bomber.  After each of these incidents the stable door was rebolted even tighter, so the terrorists found another way.  The answer is better intelligence, not more searches. 

Why does this matter?

British airports have become deeply unpleasant places: too much checking, harassment, rude behaviour by officials, waiting in line and having to put up with having trousers felt, shampoo confiscated or whatever the latest gimmick is for harassing the travelling public.  This is security theatre, designed to reassure one sub-set of the public by generally treating everyone like a potential criminal.  It doesn't catch or prevent real terrorists, and it provides a false sense of security.  We'd be better off putting the resources elsewhere.  Fighting terrorism is supposed to be about keeping us free, so let's start behaving like free people. 

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