Body-scanning equipment has been introduced at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 4 as part of a UK Government move to further strengthen security at airports. Manchester Airport has also reportedly followed suit.
In a statement, Heathrow declared that the technology, which has stirred some controversy over privacy issues, will better enable the detection of concealed items while allowing passengers to remain fully clothed. The introduction of this technology is mandated by the Department for Transport.
“The security and safety of our passengers and staff is BAA's first priority,"
Ian Hutcheson, BAA security director said. "The introduction of full-body scanners and other technology is one significant step towards a more robust defence against the changing and unpredictable threat posed by terrorists. However it is important that, as a country, we make better use of the intelligence available to industry and Government and continue to promote the close assessment of passengers’ behaviour. Only by doing so will we build a robust security system that is dynamic enough to respond quickly and effectively to the emerging threat.”
Passengers may be required to undergo the additional screening, having passed through the standard security search process. The Department for Transport requires that all passengers selected for screening must do so, and says that images of passengers are destroyed after being viewed by specially-trained security officers based elsewhere in the airport. The process takes around seven seconds.
BAA undertook the first ever trial of body-scanning technology in 1991. A second trial took place at Heathrow from April 2004 until June 2008.