I reply to the letter from John Tulloch (14th February), the tone of which is unfair and one-sided, which I am sure was not his intention. However, we would like you to take the following into account with regard to security procedures.
Sumburgh, like all UK airports, follows strict security procedures, as detailed to HIAL by the department for transport (DfT). The guidelines that the DfT has issued regarding security are prescriptive and allow only a very narrow degree of interpretation, but are there for the safety of airline passengers.
They are designed this way to: 1 Protect the airport from attacks and crime; 2 Protect the aircraft from attack; and 3 Re-assure the travelling public that they are safe.
All Sumburgh airport managers and security staff have been trained to a DfT standard and they must follow that standard which, incidentally, is routinely audited by the DfT.
The current rules do not allow us to discriminate between flyer frequency, job title, or race. A body search can be triggered if the archway metal detector is triggered by something on the individual or if it is a random search. In both cases current law dictates that shoes must be removed if that area is highlighted or if the search is random. Waist belts are required to be removed as standard practice.
When making reference to small airports’ security procedures, it might be well to remember that these procedures are in place throughout all airports, regardless of size, and for good reason. This is due to the fact that prior to the 9/11 bombings in New York, the terrorists had previously passed through airports which are not dissimilar in size to our own island airports.
We would like to re-iterate that these measures are in place for your own safety and for the safety of our staff, and would like to thank our staff for their continued and dedicated attitude to this, and for the provision of a professional service.