FOI release

18072 Advanced Image Technology and Full Body Scanning Equipment

We received the following request for information on the 15 March 2011. Has the Home Office at any stage in the period 2001 to date, carried…


18072 Advanced Image Technology and Full Body Scanning Equipment (PDF file - 131kb)

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We received the following request for information on the 15 March 2011.

  1. Has the Home Office at any stage in the period 2001 to date, carried out any testing of advanced imaging technology / full body scanning technology in locations other than airports (i.e. railway stations/underground or metro networks/public streets etc.);
  2. If so, please specify when this testing took place and the precise location of where the testing took place (i.e. London Underground - stations Oxford Street and Euston);
  3. If so, what were the incurred total costs of such tests;
  4. If so, how was scanning carried out (e.g. mobile scanning vans / mobile scanning units);
  5. Please supply a copy of any reports / studies carried out for the Home Office on the efficacy of any such tests, redacted if necessary if security / commercial information is contained;
  6. If such testing was carried out, is this technology currently in use in locations other than airports as per the date of this request? If so, please specify which locations.

 The following information was released on 1 April 2011.

  1. CAST, Centre for Applied Science and Technology, (formerly HOSDB), routinely carry out laboratory testing of two categories of systems;

a) Portal type body scanners
b) Standoff imaging systems

Roughly two tests per year are carried out, at which several systems are evaluated in order to get best value for money. This testing is carried out in order to provide information on the performance of the technology to potential users. Testing takes place for aviation and non-aviation applications - this is to inform all potential users but the decision whether to use a technology in a particular applications rests with operational units, using the evidence we provide on performance.

Prior to the creation of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) under the Home Office, HM Revenue and Customs had a responsibility for the identifying and seizing of restricted and prohibited goods. In support of this, operational trialling of some technology took place at two sea ports at operational areas. These were passive millimetre wave systems. In addition The Home Office supported the Department for Transport (DfT) in trialling a passive millimetre wave body scanner at Paddington Railway Station. This formed part of DfT’s LUNR (London Underground National Railway) passenger screening equipment trials in the wake of the 7/7 London Bombings. DfT published the results of these trials.

  1. The testing takes place at CAST sites - not in public spaces. Please note that outside of our lab testing remit CAST also provide an operational support service to UK Police. Our inventory of specialist equipment includes a mobile full body X-Ray machine. This has been operationally deployed for major security events and crime prevention operations (particularly those aimed at knife crime). This specific equipment was operationally deployed for Operation Portcullis over a period of 5 months between November 2009 - March 2010 at various locations including Sheffield, Doncaster, Nottingham and Slough City Centres where a number of offensive weapon seizures were made.
    UKBA - The locations were in the passenger arrival halls at Harwich Ferry Terminal (July - December 2007) and Dover Eastern Docks (December 2007). Both were restricted areas where Customs operational work took place but which members of the public travelling on the vessels that used those ports, passed through. There was also a short trial in 2009 at St. Pancras International, inside the departures area at security.  The 2007 trials used equipment provided by the manufacturer and was used to assess the concept of operations. The 2009 trial used UKBA-owned equipment and again, was to assess concept of operations.  The trial undertaken for the DfT took place at Paddington Railway station for a period of 20 days at the beginning of 2006.

  2. The budget for laboratory evaluation of these systems is of the order £200k per year.
    UKBA - The only costs incurred were for the staff involved with the running of the trials. The technology for the 2007 trials was supplied by the manufacturer, at their risk and there were no infrastructure costs incurred at any of those locations.  The DfT trial was paid for by the DfT through their annual research programme.  Costs incurred were limited to reimbursement of staff time of the Home Office technical and trials team who were assisting with the trial.

  3. The testing takes place in the laboratory, so there is no need for systems to be mobile. Volunteers are used for the testing.
    UKBA - The technology, which was fixed, was used in static locations at the sea ports. Technology for the international terminal was transportable. Only selected individuals were invited to be screened by the technology. For the DfT trial at Paddington Station, passengers were selected at random and asked if they would volunteer to participate.

  4. UKBA - Operational testing at the ports was not about capability of the technology but determining the practicalities of their operations in different environments. There are no reports available. DfT published the results of the DfT’s LUNR trial.

  5. CAST do not have any current operational deployments outside airports - but there is no requirement for CAST to be formally notified of such deployments across government.
    UKBA - The passive imaging systems were later installed at Dover and Harwich, still in the restricted zone, and are currently used as appropriate in those locations. The DfT does not have any body scanners that are deployed outside of the airport environment.

Date: Wed Jun 01 14:15:42 BST 2011

Published 1 June 2011