Airport security boss calls time on tech

Old school intelligence, not new school stupidity

The security boss of Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport is calling for an end to endless investment in new technology to improve airline security.

Marijin Ornstein schiphol security boss

Marijn Ornstein

Marijn Ornstein said: "If you look at all the recent terrorist incidents, the bombs were detected because of human intelligence not because of screening ... If even a fraction of what is spent on screening was invested in the intelligence services we would take a real step toward making air travel safer and more pleasant."

She said authorities were in an arms race with terrorist organisations and were always a step behind.

Ornstein added: "With every incident that happens, the regulators ask for more measures, more measures, more measures," she said. "As soon as they heard about this [the recent plot to load PETN explosives into printer ink cartridges] we got letters from the US and the UK telling us to take out all the ink cartridges coming through, which means we are fighting yesterday's war because there is no terrorist in the world who is now going to put PETN into an ink cartridge anyway," according to Euobserver

She also said that Schiphol is running out of space for extra equipment and running out people to recruit as security guards. Security costs at Schiphol have gone up 175 per cent in five years and one in 10 security guards in Amsterdam now work at the airport.

Ornstein believes old-fashioned intelligence and smart screening of passengers are the way forward.

But she also criticised the European move to lift restrictions on liquids. She said legislators did not understand the operational implications and that the change would confuse passengers.

The chairman of British Airways recently said it was time the world's airline and airport industry stopped automatically agreeing to all requests from the US to tighten or change security practices. ®

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