Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/07/18/planespotter_scheme/

UK planespotters to battle al-Qaeda

Anoraks man front line in WOT

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 18th July 2007 09:38 GMT

Police have formulated a cunning plan to protect Durham Tees Valley Airport from al-Qaeda kamikaze attack - crack teams of vigilante planespotting anoraks, the Telegraph reports.

Local cops have convened a meeting with "aircraft enthusiasts" aimed at recruiting them as the "eyes and ears" of the War on Terror™. Durham police's detective superintendent Neil Malkin explained: “We have thought for some time the planespotters may be a very useful source of information. They are at the site on a regular basis and could potentially be the first to spot any suspicious activity. This idea has worked in other areas and if there are sufficient numbers interested, it could be just as effective up here.”

Durham cops were quick to stress that the cunning plan was mooted before the Friends of Ozzie launched their chilling attack on Glasgow Airport, and indeed Bristol Airport deployed planespotters back in March as part of its "Airport Watch" scheme.

Durham Tess Valley airport's services manager Nicola Baines said: "Such a scheme will allow the police and other agencies to share information more easily and effectively."

Passengers, however, are not convinced that anoraks will prove an effective fighting force against terrorist apocalypse. Call centre worker Danielle Newport, 20, took time before jetting off to Tenerife to tell the Telegraph: "I can't believe some geeks in bobble hats are supposed to protect us from hardened terrorists. The police might live to regret this because they'll be getting hundreds of calls from the spotters.

"If terrorists have targeted a plane and you are on it there is nothing a plane spotter can do to help you. It's a crackpot plan."

Fellow passenger Steven Doherty, 38, chipped in with: "It sounds a bit like desperate measures to me. What are we going to have - vigilante plane spotters attacking potential terrorists at airports?

"Realistically, if something is going to happen there is very little anything can be done to stop it. The only reason the attack failed at Glasgow airport was because the terrorists messed up - it wasn't the police that stopped them."

Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, Ashok Kumar, diplomatically offered: "At first sight it seems a bit odd, but then we do have neighbourhood watch, and that does help the police in their work. However it can be no substitute for proper policing and tight and tough security from professionals, who know the kind of threat they and we could be up against." ®