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January 13, 2012

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Metro security screening may undergo big change

SHANGHAI is considering ending the security checks at Metro stations and replacing the X-ray scanners with manual random checks and police dogs, the top official of the city's politics and law committee said yesterday.

"We can ask inspectors to do some random checks with inspection sticks or dispatch some police dogs who can effectively stop flammable materials from being brought onto the Metro trains," Wu Zhiming, chairman of the committee, told the city's political advisory body.

He did not give a timetable but said local police had begun working on some details of replacement plans.

The current system is expensive to the city government because nearly 30 percent of the city's entire population are receiving security checks at the city's nearly 300 Metro stations every day, Wu said.

He said foreign cities like Tokyo and Moscow had no such large-scale security checks on their subway systems.

Police dogs can effectively sniff out banana oils and paint, the most common outlawed items brought to Metro stations, and other materials, he said.

Shanghai launched the security checks among all its 7 million daily Metro passengers in 2010 for the Shanghai World Expo. Passengers are asked to put their bags through X-ray scanners at all stations and inspectors do some random checks with inspection wands.

The security checks have no function at times because some inspectors are seen sleeping behind the screen of scanners, while some others never use their inspection wands, said Zang Zhinian, a member of the Shanghai Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and a professor at Fudan University.

Shanghai Vice Mayor Yang Xiong has also said the city government had considered using less manpower for subway checks after the World Expo.

There have been online debates about the Metro security checks.

Some residents said they often saw inspectors sleeping, while others said some guards performed more stringent checks on passengers who looked like non-locals, which often led to conflicts.

Some 22 Metro inspectors were fired last year for infractions including sleeping on duty and beating up passengers.

Another 74 inspectors who failed to meet standards were put into retraining courses to improve their performance, local police said.


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