Should abandoned bags on public transport be punished by on the spot fines ?

| | Comments (3)

There have been something like 800 "false alarms" caused by "suspect packages" or bags since the bombs attacks on Thursday 7th July 2005 in centrral Lomdon.

A security conference reported by the BBC, has come up with the suggestion that:

"People who leave bags on trains, buses and the Tube should get an on-the-spot fine, security experts suggest."

This idea does seem to have some merit, what do you think ?


Theoretically a good idea, practically I have some serious doubts this is actually going to work and have such a huge impact:

When an abandonded bag is found, unless there is something in it to identify the owner without doubt, who are you going to issue the fine against?

If you see someone getting up and leaving a bag behind, how can you be sure they were going to leave the bag behind? May be they were just walking a few steps away to check the timetable, yet still keeping an eye on their bag? Where do you draw the line?

If someone left a bag behind on a bus and got off, by the time it is discovered and the bus is stopped I suspect you don't stand much chance of finding them. And knowing they are likely to face a fine they are unlikely to come forward voluntarily...

Quite a lot of the abandoned bags do have identifying documents in them.

Perhaps any fine should go to the person who spots the "suspect package" and raises the alarm ?

So I forget my briefcase on a train or bus, and I'm subject to a fine. Now you are punished for being forgetful. So three times and 12 points and you are banned from public transport for three months, that it? Sounds like the opportunity for passive public protest. If enough people leave a bag on the train on the same day, you could bring London to a halt. You keep this up and you'll succeed in closing down London better than the terrorists (aka MI5).
But if my identity is in the luggage item, and I get it back, I'll have to pay a fine, right? Assume the fine will be substantial. Better remove your identity, as the fine will be more than replacing the item from a charity shop. Contents are another matter. Better yet, mark a charity shop bag with someone else's identity. Someone you are not too well disposed to, such as former spouse, partner, work colleague, or someone else that's giving you grief (like Tony Blair).
Present reality is if you leave a bag on the train, some lowlife will take advantage of the windfall opportunity presented. And as bold as brass, make off with it. Of course if challenged he will claim he's taking it to Lost and Found.
Now with every abandoned backpack a potential bomb, everyone will back to the other end of the carriage, like rats when you drop a cobra in the pen. At the terminus, presumably an Underground staff member walks the carriages and picks up forgotten items. Sounds like another ill-conceived piece of NuLabour legislation is heading for the Statute Book. Displaying “Don’t forget your bag? signs would be far more effective and cause less resentment, but presumably that would cut into advertising revenue.

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