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Airport security measures and this latest bomb scare

November 1, 2010

For the last two days UK news broadcasts have centred on these toner cartridges stuffed with explosives. Debate has been endless (See an example: here), especially as the details of the story have changed over that time. I suspect it may be similar in the US.

Only last week there were calls to ease the ‘onerous’ personal security checks at UK airports. If this was based on the (apparent) fact that news of terrorists being caught by these checks never gets released they should think again. When speed cameras are installed at an accident blackspot their effectiveness is not judged by the number of motorists caught speeding there. It is judged by whether or not the accident rate reduces.

The fact that some explosives cannot be detected by any scanning equipment and that we are having to rely on ‘intelligence’ to discover suspect packages seems to have come as a complete surprise to many people.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion in our countries and allowed to express it, subject to certain caveats. The problem is most of us have little or no real understanding of how security scanning works, how intelligence gathering and use works, how successful either has been and how terrorists think and plan. And, of course, there is no test of the IQ or political leanings of those individuals or media organisations who may contribute loudly to these debates.

There are trained and experienced experts doing their best to keep our skies and countries safe. While not expecting perfection 100% of the time, let’s just allow them to get on with their jobs.


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