Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Full Body Scanners Introduced to Combat Terrorism

By Sunil Patel

The Home Secretary Alan Johnson has swiftly drafted in a raft of anti-terror measures to be deployed across British Airports.

The move comes in a response to security failings on Christmas Day in which a terrorist came within seconds of denoting a bomb.

A Nigerian citizen, Umah Farouk Abdulmutallab, was able to go undetected and evade all security checks with explosives strapped to his underwear at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport before he boarded Northwestern Airlines flight 253 bound for Detroit.

Under the proposals, the first of a new wave of full body scanners will be implemented at Heathrow Airport within three weeks, Alan Johnson said in a statement made to parliament Tuesday, January 5.

Mr Johnson said, “We, therefore, intend to make changes to our aviation security regime. There may be some additional delays as airports adapt, but I am sure the travelling public will appreciate the reasons behind this.”

The £100,000 machines will be gradually introduced across the rest of the UK’s airports but no time frame has been set out for this.

Airport bosses will be required to deliver the explosive trace detection equipment by the end of the year.

To strengthen explosives detection capability, there will be an increased presence of “sniffer” dogs at all airports.

The British Airports Association has started training airport security staff in behavioural analysis techniques so they can identify ‘problem’ passengers.

No single technology could guarantee 100 percent effectiveness at eliminating the threat of such attacks, according to Alan Johnson.

A British Airports Association spokesperson said, "Now that the Government has given the go-ahead, we will introduce full body-scanners as soon as practical.

“It is our view that a combination of technology, intelligence and passenger profiling will help build a more robust defence against the unpredictable and changing nature of the terrorist threat to aviation."

Mr Johnson concedes the full body scanners at airports would have been ineffective in detecting the type of explosives used in the recent terror attack.

The Nigerian terrorist used a device without metallic parts hidden next to the body, currently undetectable by scanning technology.

Therefore, the Home Secretary has issued a directive to all UK Airports to increase the frequency of searching by hand by security staff of passengers.

Despite the limitations of technology, the government will also be looking on how to best extend passenger profiling to enhance air travel safety.

The Secretary of State said: “We will be considering all the issues involved, mindful of civil liberties concerns, but conscious of our overriding obligations to protect peoples’ life and liberty.”

Any government recommendations which make air travel safer have to be considered a welcome addition to current measures, according to Sean Tipton from the Association of British Travel Agents.

He said, “Passengers have had come accustomed to extra security measures ever since foiled liquid bomb threat a few years ago, “I think at the most the new scanners will mean travellers will have to add an additional 15 minutes onto travel journeys.”

“And I don’t think passengers will be too bothered about the inconvenience because they know it may be necessary to avoid the very significant dangers posed by terrorists,” Mr Tipton added.

The Home Secretary confirmed the expansion of existing aviation security measures such as the roll-out of e-borders which checks passenger details, including those in transit against a watch- list.

Visitors applying for a visa – have to provide fingerprints and their records checked by the government held list.

The list which holds millions of records of known criminals, terrorists and those people deemed a threat to UK security.

Mr Johnson believes this scheme will be 95 percent completed by the end of the year.

No comments:

Post a Comment