Secure in the knowledge

The conviction of three men for plotting to use liquid explosives to blow up aircraft departing London confirmed the necessity of airport security measures in place since August 2006.

It also triggered reports that these measures could soon be relaxed following trials of scanning machines capable of detecting liquid explosives in hand luggage.

Don’t bank on it.

The machines are being used in trials, but this is not news. Manufacturer Smiths announced their first deployment two years ago. However, since the ingredients of a bomb can also be found in hair colour or disinfectant, keeping queues at security under control is easier with a ban on all liquids

Passenger profiling is touted by some analysts as an alternative, suggesting customs and immigration practice at UK airports shows the way to go. This involves racial profiling and allows through large quantities of drugs – or where do those on the street come from?

Customs officers assume they won’t stop every carrier – and it does not in general lead to catastrophe. But one missed carry-on bag containing explosive might.


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