Target certain people using controversial passenger profiling, says former airport security chief Ian Hutcheson

 

Controversial “passenger profiling” techniques which could see some travellers singled out for extra checks because of their race or age should be introduced in the UK, according to the former head of security at Britain’s leading airports.

Ian Hutcheson, who retired from the company that runs Heathrow at the end of last year, said that “some form of passenger differentiation” was necessary so that security resources could be focused on those passengers who actually posed a threat.

He suggested that low-risk travellers could join a “membership scheme” under which they would volunteer extra personal data in return for a faster journey through the airport.

“We need to move towards a more risk-based view of security where things like behavioural recognition and passenger profiling are contemplated, along with the acceptance that the large proportion of passengers  pose a minimal risk,” Mr Hutcheson said in an interview with Intersec, the Journal for International Security.

Mr Hutcheson was Commander of the Heathrow Airport Division of the Metropolitan Police before he joined BAA in 1997. He led the response for the UK’s leading airports to both 9/11 and the “liquid bomb plot” in 2006.

His intervention in the aviation security debate gives support to proponents of studying a passenger’s profile and behaviour more closely than their possessions – the “bad people not bad objects” approach, as it is known. But there is concern that people of Asian, Middle Eastern and North African origin are already unfairly singled out for extra attention.

Mr Hutcheson conceded that the issue is “politically sensitive,” but he pointed to examples of profiling where individuals regarded as safe are subject to a lower-security regime.

“The US has started down that road by looking at certain parts of the population – such as young children, people over 65 and those in the military.”

But other security specialists regard any relaxation of current search standards as dangerous, and fear terrorists will exploit looser screening.

Smarter technology is seen as the best long-term prospect for easing the stress and cost of security, but the efforts of the European Commission to lift the liquids ban have so far proved futile. In the wake of the August 2006 plot to bring down jets using bombs assembled on board, all but small quantities of liquids were banned. A deadline of April this year for EU airports to lift the ban passed by, as equipment to detect liquids with explosive potential is not yet widely installed.

Mr Hutcheson expressed doubts about whether new scanners could solve the issue: “Technology has some way to go before it can actually screen a washbag filled with toiletries, for example, which is ultimately what the passenger wants.”

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “We are talking to the aviation industry about possible ways in which a risk-based screening scheme might work, and what benefits it might deliver in terms of customer experience, cost savings and security”. But the DfT played down the prospect of an early move to lighter security for some passengers. “The work is still in its early conceptual stages,” said the spokeswoman.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion this leading designer and sup...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: Physics Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee