Transport secretary Lord Adonis is quoted as saying that exempting children from the ‘naked’ scanners at airports would risk undermining the security measures.
I have a number of issues with that assertion.
One is to wonder, in passing, why a decision of that nature (which seems to me to be far more about social ethics than about transportation) should fall to the transport secretary.
The other, contrary to what you might expect, is not about whether capturing such images of children is in itself appropriate. Rather, I question the longer-term effects of adopting this approach.
Once, as a child, I was on a flight from the UK to the Middle East when it made an unexpected landing at a major European airport because of a technical fault. While the airline investigated what he problem was and how to fix it, we were all transferred off the plane and into a transit lounge. At no stage was there any suggestion that we would be allowed anywhere other than the transit areas of the terminal. Despite that, I was given a full and thorough pat-down by a security officer on reaching the building from the plane. At the time, I was irritated – it seemed to me to be an unnecessary and entirely gratuitous measure.
As you can tell, it stuck in my mind. Over time, my feeling of irritation has been replaced by one of wondering why on earth I was singled out, and whether there was some motivation other than security. That’s not a pleasant feeling, even in retrospect, but it does highlight, for me, one foreseeable but probably unintended consequence of the ‘naked scanner’ policy.
At least, in my case, there was something which served to remind me that something untoward might, conceivably have happened. In the current context, we will be educating a cohort of children to submit themselves to potentially intrusive and inappropriate procedures which – to all intents and purposes “don’t happen” – a four-year-old child, say, will simply think they have been told to stand in a small room for a moment.
Then again,to pre-empt the likely comment from Richard Veryard – maybe that is the purpose of the system (POSIWID).