Thursday, April 26, 2007

Airport security

Fed up with the over stringent, shambolic and inconsistent security arrangements at the airports in England I have drafted a letter to the powers that be. By way of proof of what I am talking about, the picture above shows 'security' checking out the caliper of a wheeel chair bound elderly gentleman. A terrorist if ever I saw one!
Here's my first draft:

Dear Doctor Reid, or Home Secretary (whichever is the higher) - At this point I expect the letter to be binned but at least it makes me feel better.

A recent report on BBC Breakfast News the other day covered the expected security shambles that will be inevitable at airports run by the British Airports Authority and this reminded me that I had to write to you. I refer specifically to the admission on the programme by the Managing Director of BAA that there will be delays, passing through security, during the upcoming holidays at his airports.
I travel fairly frequently through Luton Airport between France and England and this is the reason for writing.

I fully understand and commiserate with all the work that you have to do in sorting out the Home Office but may I take a few seconds of your time to ask you to look again at the security procedures that are inflicted on the British travelling public.

I fully understand that you must put the safety of the public at the forefront of your considerations. I fully understand that at moments of crisis, security has to be tight. I also fully understand that you have to cover your arse but please, please give us all a break. Please set up a system of security checks that requires the use of a bit more common sense.

1 My little, grey haired, frail old mum does not look like a terrorist. She is not a terrorist and never will she be one. Why subject her to the same security checks?

2 I and many of my travelling companions do not look like terrorists. We are quite obviously white, overfed, middle-aged sun seekers. Why are we all subjected to the same security checks? The young male with an England football shirt, sombrero, jeans and white trainers is not a terrorist either. He is from Essex! Take a good look at the pictures of all known terrorists. Study it carefully because there are a few clues there. Do we look like anyone of them? The day that terrorists start to recruit disaffected, middle-aged folk like me (and that might be sooner than you think!) then by all means checks us all out, but in the meantime can a little more common sense be exercised?

3 One time I have to take off my shoes and another time not. One time I have to take off my belt and another time not. I have to stand there holding my trousers up with one hand and collecting my belongings with the other. Try it some time. You will find it quite humiliating.

4 I follow the guidelines regarding small quantities of liquids and toiletries in carry on bags. One time I am told to declare the bag before passing through security and the next time to leave it in the bag. I left it in the bag only to be stopped, have the bag searched, and have the 100 ml shaving foam tin examined closely to check that it only contained 100 ml. It was quite obvious from the size that it did.

5 Could you please ensure that the person checking the x-ray screen is actually looking at the screen and not chatting to his/her mates! I have noted this on more than one occasion.

6 If you want security procedures to be taken seriously then they must be applied consistently throughout Europe and other countries. An elderly lady at the last Luton security check was standing next to me. She had travelled from the US and was travelling onwards from England. Why are you allowed to board a plane in the US with a bottle of water and not the UK? Her half consumed bottle of water was confiscated at Luton! How stupid is that?

Look I know that you’ve got a lot on your plate but please can you get someone with a bit of common sense to look at this and make a few changes.

A disaffected member of the innocent and inconvenienced travelling public

Yours in anticipation

Kind regards
Alex Hampshire

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