UK airports given green light for full-body scans

Monday, January 4, 2010

LONDON - Travellers at British airports will be subjected to a full-body scan after the country’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, backed the new system.

Brown, 58, said the controversial technology, which will be introduced at Heathrow and other airports, was “essential” in tackling a new terrorist threat.

The scanners have not been met with favour and have angered privacy campaigners as they see through clothes and reveal naked images of passengers.

The new system was introduced following the failed Christmas Day bombing in the US, but critics have claimed it will create chaos among travellers.

An expert who helped develop the 100,000 pounds scanners warned they would not detect explosives like those carried by alleged Al Qaeda bomber Umar Abdulmutallab.

Tory MP Ben Wallace said they could not be relied on to spot modern bombs.

“We found they would not pick up low-density items like chemicals, plastics and liquids. These are the new tools of terrorism,” the Daily Express quoted him as saying.

“It’s fine if a suicide bomber is wearing a traditional bomb vest but they don’t any more.

“We need more passenger profiling and intelligence to pick out those most likely to be a threat.

“Gordon Brown is grasping at headlines if he thinks buying a couple of scanners will make us safer,” the former Army intelligence officer stated.

Abdulmutallab, 23, has been accused of trying to blow up Flight 253, which was heading for Detroit.

The Nigerian allegedly boarded the jet with chemical explosives sewn into his underpants and a syringe containing a liquid detonator, but his homemade bomb failed to explode.

Brown, on BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show on January 3, accepted there was no way to be certain that the body scanners would be “100 per cent” effective.

“We have found that there is a new form of explosive that is not being identified by ordinary machines,” he said.

“We have got to go further. Our first duty is to the security of the people of this country,” he stated.

The Prime Minister said he hoped the new arrangements would not cause too much delay for passengers.

“I hope we will find a way of doing this in a more sophisticated way. It will be introduced gradually,” he added.

Brown also revealed that explosive trace technology and advanced X-rays for luggage would be introduced. (ANI)

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