Transport security measures - security screening trial at Greenford station (quantitative)
|Publisher:||Department for Transport|
|Publication type:||Research report|
|Published date:||24 June 2008|
|Mode/topic:||Rail, Security and resilience|
The London bombings on 7th July 2005 resulted in a large number of fatalities, plus numerous injuries. A fortnight later a further attempt to bomb the transport system in London failed. Following these events the Department for Transport (DfT) has been trialling security equipment options for possible application on the rail and London Underground networks. Amongst other trials, a security equipment trial took place at Greenford Station for four weeks in June and July 2006.
The equipment trial at Greenford involved the analysis of twio items for traces of explosive: a vapour sample of passengers' bags and a swab of people clothing.
The research follows on from two pieces of qualitative research (also conducted by BMRB); one of which investigated attitudes to a security trial carried out at the Heathrow Express (HEX) platform in Paddington National Rail station in January 2006 and another which examined views on a trial carried out at Canary Wharf London Underground station in May to June 2006.
The overall aim of the Greenford survey was to explore local residents’ reactions to the screening at Greenford Station. Within this broader aim there were a number of more specific survey objectives:
- To explore the views of London Underground travellers about security screening.
- To probe people’s reasons for finding security screening acceptable or unacceptable.
- To explore under which circumstances security screening is seen as acceptable, if at all.
A face-to-face quantitative survey was carried out in the Greenford area. In total 501 adults (aged 18 and over) were interviewed in their own homes by interviewers from Kantar Operations on behalf of Department for Transport. All interviews were carried out on paper with completed questionnaires being checked and scanned after the completion of fieldwork.
- The vast majority of all respondents used some kind of public transport to some degree; with 85% indicating that they used the Underground to some degree.
- Around half of all respondent (43%) used the Underground at least once a week. The Underground was used more frequently by respondents than any other form of public transport.
- The most common reasons for using the Underground more often than other forms of public transport were because: the Underground was faster than other forms of transport; they lived near to an Underground station; there was no other (direct) route for them to use; or because the Underground was reliable.
- Respondents from black minority ethnic groups were slightly more likely to use public transport (including the Underground) than white respondents
Awareness of trial
- Awareness of the trial in the Greenford area was moderate with approximately 29% of local residents saying they had seen or heard about it.
Use of Greenford Station during the trial
- Around a third of all respondents (36%) had actually caught an Underground or mainline train from Greenford Station while the trials were taking place. The majority of these people had used the station to catch an Underground train.
- Around a quarter (28%) of respondents who had used Greenford station during the trial had been asked to take part in the in the security equipment trial. This constituted 10% of all respondents who took part in the survey. Only 6 respondents refused to take part. The number of people who refused to take part is too low to draw any firm conclusions about why they refused
Fears and concerns about future terrorist attacks in London
- The majority of respondents thought that future terrorist attacks on the Underground were either ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ likely. Over half of respondents who use the Underground also said that they were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried about being a victim of a terrorist attack when they travelled on the Underground. These findings suggest that people see the terrorist threat as real and credible.
- The results suggested that people from black minority ethnic groups were more worried than white people about being a victim of a terrorist attack on the Underground in the future. However, people from black minority ethnic groups were less likely to think that future attacks on the London underground are likely.
- Around a half of respondents who use the Underground at least occasionally (54%) indicated that the level of security was too low while 41% said it was about right. Very few people indicated that the level of security on the Underground was too high.
- Perceptions of level of security were linked to levels of worry about future terrorist attacks on the Underground. Respondents who were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ worried were more likely to say the current levels of security on the Underground were too low.
Acceptability of the Greenford Security Equipment Trial
Acceptability of the trial and willingness to take part
- Most respondents felt the trial at Greenford was acceptable. The majority said they would be willing to take part in a security equipment trial if asked. The majority did not think that screening was an unacceptable invasion of privacy and did not think that screening would cause too much hassle. Most respondents also felt that screening was safe for participants.
- Willingness to take part in trial is linked with attitudes towards the security equipment trial at Greenford. Respondents who were unwilling to take part in a trial (in principle) were more likely to think that screening causes too much hassle to passengers to be worthwhile and that screening is an unacceptable invasion of personal space.
Men, younger people and people from black minority ethnic groups were the least accepting of the trial at Greenford. These groups were more likely to think that:
- Screening causes too much hassle for passengers to be worthwhile
- Screening is an unacceptable invasion of personal space
- Screening is not random, certain types of people are more likely to be selected
- Male respondents under 40 from black and minority ethnic groups were the least positive of any group of respondents about the security equipment trial . This echoed previous findings from the qualitative research.
- While the number of respondents who took part in the trial was very small (45), it appeared that their experience of taking part may have improved their perceptions of some aspects of the trial. Nearly all respondents who had taken part agreed that the screening process was safe, that it would not hurt anyone.
Time taken to be screened / delays caused
- The majority of respondents who had taken part in the security equipment trial said it took less than 2 minutes. Most respondents who had been selected also said that screening had not caused a significant or unacceptable delay to their journey.
Perceptions of the selection process
- Half of all respondents did not think that the selection process was random and suggested that certain types of people were more likely to be selected to take part. Respondents tended to think that non-white people; men; younger people; people carrying bags and people in religious dress were most likely to be selected for screening.
Acceptability of Full Implementation
- Overall the response to introducing security screening across the Underground network was positive.
The potential effect on future Underground use
- The majority of respondents said that the introduction of screening at stations throughout London would make no difference to their usage of the Underground. Just 2% of respondents said they would be less likely to use the Underground if screening was introduced throughout London.
- For a significant proportion of respondents, the security screening may actually have a positive effect; a third of respondents saying that they would be more likely to use the Underground if security screening was introduced. Whether in reality people would be more likely is unclear but this suggests a fairly positive attitude towards screening.
- Respondents who were worried about being a victim of a terrorist attack while travelling on the Underground tended to say they would be more likely to use the Underground if security screening was introduced throughout London. This is a positive finding in the context of the research.
- Respondents who said that their usage of the Underground would not change were either infrequent users or whose use of the Underground arose from a practical need (i.e. they had no choice but to use the Underground).
Attitudes towards security measures across the Underground network
The majority of respondents thought that the introduction of screening throughout London was both acceptable and effective. Most respondent agreed that:
- Security screening across the Underground would be a good way of preventing terrorist attacks
- Security screening would not cause too many problems for passengers to be worthwhile
- Security screening was not an unjustified invasion of privacy.
- Men, younger people and people from black minority ethnic groups were less positive than other groups about introducing screening throughout London. This is consistent with findings from the qualitative research.
- These differences in opinion about introducing the screening are partially explained by differences in frequency of use of the Underground. Groups who tended to use the Underground frequently tended to be less positive about screening being introduced throughout London. Men, younger people and people from black minority ethnic groups were among the heaviest users of the Underground.
- It is unclear whether black minority ethnic groups were negative specifically about the trial at Greenford. Results from the qualitative research suggested that people from black minority ethnic groups tended to be more distrustful of the police and government more generally. It is important to consider this wider context within which the security equipment trial at Greenford was conducted.