Passenger vetting is to be introduced on all flights to and from the UK in the wake of last Friday’s attempted terror attack.
The home secretary Theresa May confirmed universal pre-departure checks will now include a “no-fly list” for terrorist suspects, as well as a longer list of people who will require extra vetting before they are allowed to fly.
It is expected the current border watch list will be broadened and linked to information supplied to airlines by passengers before they fly. This could also be supplied as early as when they book their journey.
Techniques to pick up on possible suspicious activity will include someone booking a flight from a potentially hostile country at short notice. If they paid by cash too this would trigger further scrutiny.
However, profiling by religion or race is banned.
Theresa May said: “We are looking at all the techniques that we should be using in order to ensure that we can provide the maximum protection for people here in the UK.
“In relation to passengers, we are enhancing our ability at the borders to ensure that we take steps to make sure that those who are a threat to the UK do not travel here.”
The move follows the discovery of a package containing explosive material at East Midlands airport last Friday, which was linked to a suspected plot to attack the US.
Security forces in Dubai also discovered a suspect package on a FedEx jet bound for the United States.
The Labour government first announced in January that it was considering the schemes in response to the attempted plane bombing last Christmas by a suspected Nigerian Al Qaeda terrorist.
As well as the watch and no-fly lists, there will be a month’s trial of carrying ink toner in hand luggage and an immediate ban on direct unaccompanied airfreight from Somalia.
All British airports were due to have been given explosive-detecting equipment by the end of this year, however, technical problems now mean this could be delayed till early next year.