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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Tube Travellers will be scanned for bombs

Bomb Detectors trialled on Canary Wharf

Watch yourself if you are travelling through Canary Wharf as from today you could find yourself being scanned for explosives or other concealed weapons.

Tube Travellers Scanned for Bombs - Evening Standard Headline

It's the first time that explosive detection has been trialled on the Tube in response to the July 7th attacks where 52 people were killed. The Evening Standard report "During the trial a team of security staff backed by British Transport Police will stop people at random and ask them to submit to examination voluntarily. If they agree, personal body scanners similar to those used at airports will check them for weapons. Another device will be able to detect even the slightest traces of explosives on fingertips. If the system proves successful it could be rolled out across the network or employed at stations considered high risk"

We had quite a debate when these were first introduced on the Heathrow Express at Paddington in October. I think that a lot of people wonder whether this is seriously feasible for a system that transports 3 million people every day. The Evening Standard allude to this "If the checks were comprehensive, however, the queues would cause chaos... Queues at Heathrow and other aiports - which deal with far fewer people than the Tube - have increased dramatically since additional security measures were introduced after the 7 July attacks". But if it's not comprehensive, why do it? It's a tricky situation, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Patrick Mercer, Tory spokesman for homeland security wonders why we haven't had this type of checking earlier. "Three years ago we knew the Tube was a target and now, almost a year after the July 7, the Government is starting a series of trials. I am amazed it has taken so long".

However, Brian Cooke, chairman of the London passenger group Tavel Watch said that those being scanned would have to be chosen on such a selective basis, that the chances of catching a terrorist would be slim.

I would like to know what basis people are being selected on. Is it similar to the current stop and search procedure? If you refuse, does that automatically put you under suspicion if you match one of the Transport Police's criteria for being stopped in the first place?

What do you think? Is it feasible to have this type of scanning on the Tube? Do you have any alternative suggestions?

; Posted by Annie Mole Tuesday, May 16, 2006 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon