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Editorial: A lot of what passes for security at airports is more theatrical than real.

THE growing certainty that the mid-air destruction of a Metrojet airliner flying from Sharm el-Sheikh to St Petersburg was caused by a bomb placed in the baggage hold has led to predictable calls from politicians for tighter airport security across much of the world. Philip Baum, a security consultant and editor of Aviation Security International, calls it “security theatre as opposed to security reality”. Some security experts argue that one of the greatest vulnerabilities at airports comes from what Mr Baum calls “the insider threat”. The working assumption is that the Metrojet bomb was placed in the hold by a baggage handler or by someone who had airside access (another possibility is that the bomb was placed in a passenger’s luggage by a hotel worker and was not picked up by airport scanners). It was probably detonated by a barometric trigger device when the plane gained altitude. Mr Baum reckons that the airport at Sharm el-Sheikh is no worse than many others at vetting staff. Some clue as to how easy it would be to put a bomb into somebody else’s bag comes from the number of valuables stolen from checked-in luggage. In the four years to 2014 passengers filed over 30,000 reports of missing property with the TSA. This year police at Miami International Airport used a hidden camera to film baggage handlers rifling through bags in a plane’s hold and stealing whatever took their fancy. Security experts reckon such practices are widespread. More information available at this link:  http://www.economist.com/news/international/21678236-lot-what-passes-security-airports-more-theatrical-real-no-more

Source: The Economist.

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