Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spot the Witch Competition

Apparently, the Home Office are to train as many of 70,000 of us to spot potential terrorists, as a means of defending the population against the possibility of another terrorist incident.

I'm up in London this week chairing another law-enforcement event with the 'usual suspects' present and to be honest, I don't know anyone, all the way up to Whitehall, who doesn't fear the inevitability of another terrorist outrage.

It did seem rather different in the days of the 'Troubles' when London was being regularly bombed. I can't recall the same sense of apprehension but the incidents themselves were more regular and perhaps even taken for granted at the time.

When I was working at the Ideal Home exhibition at Olympia, the IRA blew that up; fortunately for me, on my day off but not for the the two lovely girls I knew who were working on a stand that afternoon, while I was safely playing Rugby for Roslyn Park at Esher.

On another occasion, a friend of mine was standing inside the entrance to Knightsbridge station when the 'Harrods bomb' went off. He told me that the blast wave passed him by but did terrible damage to an elderly man in front of him - selling the evening papers I think - who was just outside the entrance and took the direct force of the explosion.

Whether 70,000 citizen sleuths will actually prove useful, beyond unreasonably focusing on anyone in a public place with a beard of burkha or both, is a question that remains unresolved. However, we should remember that we are not supposed to 'profile' or unreasonably suspect any particular group within the population and that in fact, all of us should be treated with an equal level of suspicion; one worthy of a properly diverse society. I'm beginning to sound like Labour's Harriet Harman don't you think!

If you want a little entertaining reading, it's worth flicking through the complaints of cabin crew subjected to alleged 'unreasonable' security checks and searches at a number of our larger airports, mostly north of London. Some members of the aviation community have a hard time grasping how our human rights legislation allows individuals who might reasonably be regarded as a security risk from the nature of their extra-curricular activities, to work 'airside' or even potentially as airport security workers.

The expression 'Lunatics and Asylum' springs to mind.

I think that the best analogy can be found in this Month Python sketch:

3 comments:

DrMoores said...

If anonymous and deleted of 23:49 - let's call him 'Rambo' - would care to make a useful comment , without the "Spineless Bloke that you are" remark and more (see I published it) then please try again.

Rambo would have us believe that he is in "a permanent state of readiness for a potential attack" and is "armed" too, which is nice!

He could equally be a security guard at a local shopping mall with a Walter Mitty complex.

I don't really see why I shouldn't be allowed to comment on this on any other story. I'm not claiming to be an expert on terrorism but I suspect that I'm closer to people who know a great deal about the subject at a decision-making and policy level than many. As a result, I form my own opinions.

So Rambo, my anonymous gun-toting friend, if you you feel you have a contribution to make here, then make it on the subject of the story, which is 70,000 people to be trained to spot terrorists, rather than offensive comments about me. which I will simply delete as per the warning notice shown above!

Anonymous said...

Bit unfortunate for you then if some jobsworth security guard doesn't like the length of yor beard in a built-up area then!

The Refuser said...

I find it interesting that the USA has introduced a new requirement for passengers entering the USA by sea or air. They now have to get pre-approval in order to take advantage of the visa waiver. I suspect this is a way around "profiling" and I would love to know how many British nationals who are frequent visitors to Pakistan are rejected.