Body scanners at Heathrow T4

1 Feb 2010 by BusinessTraveller

Business Traveller understands that Heathrow T4 and Manchester T2 have been directed by the government to fully implement body scanners for departing passengers at the terminals from lunchtime today.

Both terminals already possess body scanning equipment due to current or previous trials, and according to Manchester airport it is one of two that have been “directed by the Government to introduce the technology” from noon today (February 1), with the other understood to be Heathrow T4.

Manchester airport says that “the new security rules on body scanners, which are being introduced in addition to the current security procedures, make it mandatory for any passengers who are selected for a scan to participate”. The selection process will include:

  • Passengers who have requested a private search prior to or after passing through the walk-through metal detection equipment.
  • Passengers who have been referred for a private search following an unresolved metal detection alarm or if the security officer believes that further investigation is required following completion of the hand search process.
  • If explosive trace detection equipment causes an alarm to sound, or if vapour detection equipment has caused an alarm.
  • Any passenger can also be selected at random without regard to personal characteristics for a scan.

Under the new rules, any refusal to be body scanned will result in passengers not being allowed to travel. The exemption of under 18s using the scanners (which was in place during the trial at Manchester) has also been removed, and the airport says that “additional scanners are also planned for Terminals 1 and 3 by the end of February”.

“We understand that compulsory body scanning is a big change for customers who are selected under the new rules. We know privacy concerns have been on our customers’ minds which is why we have put strict procedures to reassure them that their privacy will be protected”, said Manchester Airport’s Head of Customer Experience, Sarah Barrett.

“We’ve been at the forefront in the development of imaging technology for UK airports and feel we are well placed to introduce this relatively simple, safe and straightforward security process. It will enhance security for everyone, which can only be a good thing, without compromising people’s privacy. The image generated by the body scanner cannot be stored or captured nor can security officers viewing the images recognise people. Contrary to reports, the equipment does not allow security staff to see passengers naked”.

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Report by Mark Caswell

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