Screening and 'frisk searches' as part of airport security: Matters of choice? The need for 'checks and balances' in aviation security legislation
AbstractAirport security is achieved by controlling access to the secure areas at airports and aerodromes through various policing and pseudo-policing operations ranging from the humble ‘hands-on’ ‘frisk search’, to optical surveillance and portrait recognition systems as well as technologies that can analyse voice patterns to identify suspect emotions. Whether ‘high-tech’ or ‘low-tech’, such processes are fundamentally differing manifestations of police powers to stop, search and detain. However, it is private enterprise in the security industry, which not only develops most of the technologies applied at airports, but also, takes most responsibility for implementing airport security procedures and powers at an operational level. Each day in any major city with an airport, hundreds of people are subjected to these policing powers as they are screened by security personnel at the airport, whereas on the city streets just a few dozen go through similar processes at the hands of police officers. The airport security context is perhaps unusual and potentially very hazardous, but when masses of people are subjected to policing powers in such a context, it is important that the legislative and regulatory environment in which this occurs be appropriate and properly adapted to the relevant circumstances. For various reasons, this does not appear to be the case with airport screening and related procedures.
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