Some passengers at Heathrow and Manchester airports will now have to go through full body scanners before boarding their flights and it is compulsory for people selected for a scan to take part, otherwise they will not be allowed to board the plane.
According to Transport Secretary Lord Adonis, in the immediate future only a small proportion of airline passengers would be selected for scanning, but if a passenger is selected for scanning, and declines, they will not be permitted to fly.
The scanners were introduced at the two airports today, Monday, and will be installed at Birmingham later in the month. At Heathrow, the first scanners will be in Terminal 4, although they will eventually be introduced in the other terminals.
There have been concerns the scanners breach passengers’ rights to privacy and, according to the Government, strict controls are in place.
The officer viewing the images is located in a separate, secure room and no mobile phones or cameras are allowed in that room. The image generated by the body scanner cannot be stored or captured nor can security officers viewing the images recognise people.
And we all know how effective that will be! How long before money talks and photos appear on the internet?
Meanwhile, a rule which meant under 18’s were not allowed to participate in the body scanner trial has been overturned by the government.
In addition to the privacy element, there are those who believe the scanners will be of relatively little use in combating terrorism.
Firstly, as always happens, once one avenue for the smuggling of devices is theoretically closed, the terrorist will already be working on a new method which cannot be detected by the scanners.
Secondly, the PC brigade will no doubt ensure that, until all passengers have to be scanned. the majority of scans will have to be carried out on persons with absolutely no connection to or inclination towards wrongdoing in order to avoid ‘profiling’ and infringing upon human rights.