Underground escalatorsWhat a ludicrous idea. The government has announced that it is going to start a pilot to install bag-scanners in some railway stations, starting with Heathrow Express departures from Paddington – see this from the BBC. Now, UK railway stations are already crowded enough with the cumbersome ticket barriers that create loads of queues, a situation that would surely only get worse if there were some X-ray machines too.

But beyond that, will any of these machines make us any safer anyway? We cannot possibly install these machines in the London Underground – it carries almost 1 billion people a year! And anyway, if people cannot manage to get bombs in bags into the trains, then they might do what they did in Madrid and put the bombs under the frames of the trains etc.

This idea of scanners is somewhat reminiscent of the false scanners at the Eurostar terminals in London, Brussels and Paris. Who would want to take explosive onto a Eurostar train when if you wanted to attack the tunnel you would be better off putting the explosive in a truck or car between Folkestone and Calais! So the bag scanners delay everyone, and are there to just reassure the fickle passengers a bit.

What we really need here is to invest our energy and money to address the root of the problem: growing tensions between ethnic minorities and the state and police in the UK, and also great disparities of wealth and opportunity. These are the factors that can drive people to commit acts of terrorism – once we get to grips with those, maybe we could look at bag scanners.

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