Information about the introduction of security scanners at UK airports.
In response to the attempted attack on Northwest airlines flight 253 to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, the government conducted an immediate review of aviation security measures. The findings of this review were announced on 5 January 2010. The announcement outlined a package of additional measures to enhance aviation security. These measures included:
- an increase in the use of explosive trace detection
- plans for greater random searching of passengers
- the introduction of security scanners also known as body scanners or advanced imaging technology (AIT)
On 1 February 2010 the deployment of security scanners at Heathrow and Manchester Airports was announced with a further roll-out of scanners nationally during the following months to another 6 airports.
On 21 November 2011, following a public consultation, a ‘Security scanners code of practice’ was published. The code of practice requires airports to undertake scanning sensitively, having regard to the rights of passengers. It states that passengers will not be selected to be scanned on, for example, the basis of ethnic origin, gender, or destination of travel.
There are further requirements that the airport operators must follow in the public annexes of the security scanner directions that protect the privacy of passengers.
In November 2013 it was announced that the deployment of security scanners would be extended to another 11 UK airports, and that the alternative screening method to a security scanner would be an enhanced hand search in private. The Department for Transport considers that this alternative offers comparative security assurance to passengers as being screened by a security scanner.
More airports in the UK are introducing, and increasing the use of, security scanners as part of the passenger screening process.
Airports in the UK and throughout the EU are only permitted to operate security scanners using millimetre wave technology. Independent testing has shown that millimetre wave technology does not pose any known health risks.