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Do You Feel Safe?

World opinion on attempted London airline bomb plot.

Angus Reid 22 Aug

Since British police intercepted 23 suspected terrorists on August 12 in connection with an alleged plot to detonate bombs on at least 10 airplanes travelling between the U.S. and United Kingdom, there have been increased fears about terrorism and security.

"I would like to reassure the public that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe so that you can live your lives without being in constant fear," said Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, head of Scotland Yard's Anti-Terrorist Branch, during a news conference in London.

But while passengers in many countries are abiding by new airline regulations designed to increase safety -- such as the rules against taking liquids or gels on board -- and while British police have now charged 11 people and still have a further 11 in custody, the question is whether these new measures do in fact make people feel safe.

In Britain, the arrests had an immediate effect on public perceptions of terrorism. Eighty-six per cent of respondents to a recent poll now expect a new terrorist attack in the country within the next 12 months. For more information, click here.

Also, 55 per cent of respondents in Britain would consent to the practice of passenger profiling, or selecting travellers based on their background or appearance. For more information, click here.

In the United States, 52 per cent of Americans would support a major increase in the cost of airline tickets to pay for additional security at airports and on planes. For more information, click here.

Also, three-quarters of Americans think the recent security measures, such as forbidding passengers from bringing liquids and gels on board, are correct. For more information, click here.

Before the threat was uncovered, Americans were divided about the way the fight against terrorism should affect their personal lives. Forty-eight per cent of respondents thought Americans should be willing to give up some of their civil liberties so the government can keep the country safe from terrorism, while 44 per cent disagreed. For more information, click here.

Now, the threat appears to have put Americans more in tune with the way their administration is dealing with suspected terrorists. More than half of all respondents support the use of expanded camera surveillance, law enforcement monitoring of Internet discussions, closer monitoring of banking and credit card transactions, and monitoring of cell phones and e-mail to intercept communications. Still, Americans believe these measures should only be implemented through Congress, and not by the president himself. For more information, click here.

Still, for 52 per cent of Americans, one thing is clear: the war in Iraq has increased terrorism around the world. For more information, click here.

And In Britain, 79 per cent of respondents believe the war on terrorism has been futile. For more information, click here.

In Canada, the latest poll about the participation of Canadian troops in Afghanistan showed a decline in support for the mission, from 48 per cent in June, to 37 per cent this month. For more information, click here.

TrendWatch runs twice monthly, exclusively on The Tyee. The series shares the global scan of Angus Reid Consultants, Vancouver-based leaders in public opinion analysis.  [Tyee]

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