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Sharp Objects Find Good Home

Scissors, pocket-knives and other sharp objects that have been relinquished by airline travellers since September 11 are being found a good home.

Transport Minister Mark Gosche said today that the Aviation Security Service (Avsec) would be giving the items to charitable groups and non-profit organisations, including schools and hospitals in the Pacific Islands.

“Thousands of these items have been taken from passengers during the past three months,” Mr Gosche said. “It would be a shame to destroy them, when they could be put to good use.”

Mr Gosche, who toured the Auckland Avsec operations today, said Avsec had been approached by several organisations asking if they could have the items. They would go to church groups, Scouts and Guides, schools and community groups such as Rotary.

“Clearly we will not be giving knives to schools, but some of these items – such as scissors, files and knitting needles – can be put to good use for school projects and so on. Some things, like surgical-grade scissors, could be used in hospitals,” Mr Gosche said.

Meantime, Avsec says passengers are still trying to carry dangerous goods onto aircraft. At Auckland’s international security screening point, 4643 items were taken from passengers during November. At the domestic screening point, 1069 items were taken. Another 1073 items were discovered but passengers either mailed them back to themselves or handed them back to a non-travelling friend or relative. Large numbers are also being relinquished at other airports.

“It’s still a problem,” Avsec General Manager Mark Everitt said today. “People need to change their thinking about airline security, and consider what they are taking with them to the airport.”

Mr Everitt said the new security measures were here to stay, and if anything, they would get stricter.

“We are not going to ever go back to measures in place before September 11,” he said.

However, he said he was generally pleased with public support for the new measures. A recent NBR poll showed 93 percent support for tightened airport security.

Meanwhile, Avsec is continuing its vigorous recruiting, as it seeks to find staff for new domestic screening operations. The organisation expects to nearly double its pre-September staff numbers to 300.


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