chapter  4
22 Pages

Checkpoint security: Gateways, airports and the architecture of security


The aim of this chapter is to suggest a general theoretical model of ‘checkpoint security’. My central argument is that checkpoint security is a specific kind of control practice within crime control and criminal justice, finding various applications in police stations, at security roadblocks, prisons, courts and national borders, but also more widely in society, at airports, underground railways, ports, schools, mail rooms, galleries, offices, military facilities, shops, gated communities, and even pubs and clubs – indeed anywhere where it is thought important to regulate those passing through. In many respects, security checkpoints are simply a form of situational crime prevention (used to ‘increase the effort’, by controlling access to facilities or by screening exits), but I will argue that their usage is sufficiently widespread to be deserving of criminological attention in their own right. One could argue too that security checkpoints are merely a particular form of surveillance practice. In fact, security checkpoints can be seen to bridge situational crime prevention and surveillance practices, suggesting a new way of conceptually linking these two areas together. I aim to identify features shared by security checkpoints with the aim of building up a general sociological model of their operation.