Ministers are calling for the Home Office to relax security checks at airports and to revert back to the risk-based checks abandoned last year. The ministers say that long queues at UK airports are damaging the travel industry and could harm the wider economy.
Although more staff have been recruited for the period during the Olympics, the cross-party Home Affairs Select Committee said they fear waiting times will increase again afterwards as staff will be cut back again yet there will be more foreign students arriving in the UK for the new academic year, impacting on waiting times once again.
The risk-based checks mean that security staff could wave through low-risk groups such as groups of school children and families with children. However, this strategy was stopped last year as it was found that security staff had relaxed the rules further than had been intended, and without authorisation. The Select Committee called for the reintroduction of the checks, claiming in a report that it had been effective in handling large groups, and to add “smart zones” to screen passengers before they arrive in the UK so that any individuals deemed to present a risk could be subjected to further checks.
A further measure suggested to help passengers feel more informed about waiting times, is for boards with the approximate waiting time to be installed at security and immigration, similar to those currently at Heathrow T4.
Would relaxing the rules be a good idea for low-risk groups? Does this suggestion seem strange after an 11 year-old boy was able to pass through security and board a plane to Rome without a passport or boarding pass yesterday?