Page last updated at 08:56 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 09:56 UK

'Naked' scanner in airport trial

Scanner images
The images will be destroyed straight away, say the authorities

A trial of a scanner that produces "naked" images of passengers has begun at Manchester Airport.

The authorities say it will speed up security checks by quickly revealing any concealed weapons or explosives.

But the full body scans will also show up breast enlargements, body piercings and a clear black-and-white outline of passengers' genitals.

The airport has stressed that the images are not pornographic and will be destroyed straight away.

Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at the airport, said most passengers did not like the traditional "pat down" search.

At Manchester Airport's Terminal 2, where the machine has been introduced, passengers will no longer have to remove their coats, shoes and belts as they go through security checks.

Ms Barrett said: "This scanner completely takes away the hassle of needing to undress."

Ms Barrett said the black-and-white image would only be seen by one officer in a remote location before it was deleted.

"The images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way," she said.

Passengers could refuse to be scanned, she added.

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"Maybe if I was 18, slim and lovely, I'd take it"

The scanners cost £80,000 each. They work by beaming electromagnetic waves on to passengers while they stand in a booth. A virtual three-dimensional image is then created from the reflected energy.

Ms Barrett said the radiation levels were "super safe".

She said: "Passengers can go through this machine 5,000 times a year each without worrying. The amount of radiation transmitted is tiny."

The Department for Transport will decide whether to install them permanently in about a year's time.

The scanners, made by RapiScan Systems, have already been tried at Heathrow Airport from 2004 to 2008.

A BAA Heathrow spokeswoman said the technology had been "very effective" and the airport operator was considering possible wider use of it in the future.

The scanners are being gradually rolled out at airports across the US, after use in Los Angeles and New York.


Below is a selection of comments you have sent in regarding the issues in this story.

Absolutely disgusting. I would rather be "patted down" than have my images stored for a security guard to see - even if they are destroyed. Big organisations cannot be trusted with information/data etc (government and private sector companies have lost many of our personal details in the post) and this leaves me feeling even more vulnerable in our big brother state. Will they soon add this information and our naked images to our biometric data card?
Z, Birmingham

Absolutely not! What is this country coming to! This is disgusting, a real invasion of our last privacies. To have a picture of someone naked viewed by some unknown person, revolting. To say that the pictures will be destroyed immediately is a nonsense. For a start time and time again the Government has shown that it cannot keep our information secure. With nursery workers taking pornographic pictures of children in their care how long will it be before the airport pictures are being trafficked on the net?
Angela Smith, Annan, Dumfriesshire

If it meant that as passengers we were more secure and also meant we didn't have to go through the added hassle of undressing then I can't see why people would complain, especially given the authorities assurances that the images are destroyed.
Steven Todd, Glasgow

If this speeds up security I cannot see a problem, this is for our own safety!
Julie Harris, Farnham Surrey

Yes, I would mind. I have nothing to hide but I would be unhappy having a x-ray which produced a naked image of me even if it was destroyed straight away. It's just not right.
Hazel, Suffolk

I think it would be very embarrassing to go throughout the scanner. But if it is going to keep us safe from terrorists then it is worth it and essential. I'm sure the person seeing the images will see so many every day that they will not be in the least bit interested in our naked bodies.
Roy Woolnough, Watford

Fantastic idea! With so much terrorism targeted at planes these days, this is necessary and I don't feel like it breaches privacy at all. We shouldn't allow the privacy factor to get in the way of public safety.
Joseph, Scunthorpe, England

I would not be keen on this and it is not right for someone to be looking at intimate images of children. This system should not get the go ahead.
Roy Lavender, Bilston

This is an absolute abuse of power. It is completely unacceptable and makes people feel violated. What a disgrace! If snooping into every other part of our lives is not enough now they have to snoop on our bodies too! I think government has gone power mad!
Mike Brown, Corby, Northamptonshire

I'd rather have this, than be fully searched. If it speeds up check in, and makes travelling less stressful, bring it on. I think because of the amount of unnecessary surveillance we appear to be subject to, good ideas get a little too much criticism when they arrive.
Eddie, Edinburgh



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