MAIL ON SUNDAY COMMENT: Fingerprinted in the name of BAA greed

Demeaning: Millions face being fingerprinted as they fly from UK airports

If we let the security services have their way, we would probably all end up with barcodes on our foreheads, CCTV cameras in our bedrooms and listening devices in our cars.

The argument that 'you can't be too careful' is a standing excuse for continuing obsessive surveillance of the innocent - just in case.

It is a very bad principle. And, after several years of giving in to it, the British people are beginning to have doubts.

This summer, as we plod through airports with our shoes in one hand and our belts in the other, while our contraband handcream is confiscated by boot-faced jobsworths, we must now contemplate the prospect of being fingerprinted the next time we travel.

No doubt we will be told that this is for our own good and safety, and expected to button our lips.

But the real reason for this intrusive and demeaning procedure is the commercial greed of BAA, which wants to be sure that as many passengers as possible get as much exposure as possible to as many shops as possible.

The Information Commissioner, who rightly mistrusts the idea, has already scotched it once when it was proposed for Heathrow's Terminal 5.

But BAA remains determined to have 'open lounges' where all travellers - domestic and international - mix together.

We can hardly be surprised that BAA wants to maximise its income. But what is inexplicable here is that the Government seems to have given no thought to the alternative of continuing to separate domestic and international passengers.

Governments are supposed to judge wisely between competing interests, not to collapse under pressure from fat commercial lobbies.

Execution by police

Less than three years after mistakenly killing Jean Charles de Menezes, the Metropolitan Police shot dead Mark Saunders.

Unlike Mr de Menezes, who was entirely blameless, Mr Saunders behaved with appalling drunken stupidity.

But did the police really need to kill him? Did they make any serious effort to end the incident peacefully? Or was he doomed from the start?

Now the account of the incident given by Jane Winkworth raises further questions.

Why was a helicopter kept roaring overhead as if it were a major terrorist incident, interfering with communications and heightening the tension?

Why, despite Mr Saunders' distraught note to his wife, addressed to her and flung from the window, was she not brought to the scene?

Why do those in charge - out of sight in their control room - seem to have greatly overestimated his firepower and skill with weapons?

The increasing militarisation of the police is something their founder, Sir Robert Peel, specifically sought to avoid. If we arm and train men for combat rather than for consent, then it is not surprising that they choose violent solutions instead of peaceful resolutions. But this is not what the police are for in a free country.

There is a strong sense that nobody is truly accountable for such shootings. This is wrong and lawless. Capital punishment is being reintroduced by stealth, but without the protections of open jury trial or the possibility of appeal.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now