Manchester Airport body scanners "not compulsory"

14 Oct 2010 by AndrewGough

Manchester Airport has denied reports that it is making controversial body scans compulsory for all passengers from the end of the month.

Reports out this morning (October 14) appear to have been sparked by the airport’s announcement that is to install scanners at all three of its security areas.

But a Manchester spokesperson told Business Traveller that the scanners, which have the ability to see through clothing, will remain a “secondary device” replacing the traditional pat down hand search.

The scanners have been used only when the initial security arch indicates the presence of metal and this policy is set to continue.

Manchester yesterday announced plans to install body scanners at all three of its security areas, despite fears raised over privacy. The decision to install scanners at T1 and T3 follows successful trials at T2, where voluntary trials began in October last year.

Airport authorities said the scanners had received an “overwhelmingly positive reception from passengers” since they first came into use, with 400,000 people reported to have passed through them.

Manchester’s managing director Andrew Harrison said:

“Our passengers and staff tell us that they much prefer the experience of a body scanner because it is significantly quicker as it doesn’t involved being frisked nor does it require them to remove their coats, jackets and belts.”

But the scanners met with a mixed response from some, with fears over a possible infringement of privacy.

“We fully respect that a small number of people have reservations about body scanners on privacy or medical grounds but we have gone to great lengths to ensure the highest levels of privacy protection and expert studies have shown that the technology is safe,” Harrison added.

In May, a landmark agreement with the European Commission, a first for Europe, allowed Manchester to use the technology to completely replace the pat down hand search (see online news May 14).

Some confusion surrounds a government direction in February, requiring that all airports already with scanners (Heathrow and Manchester) implement them across all departure terminals (see online news February 1). But this does not mean all passengers must pass through them, only those asked to by airport security.

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Report by Andrew Gough

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