Britain to introduce body scanners at airports: Brown

Last Updated: Friday, January 1, 2010 - 18:59

London: Britain plans to introduce the
controversial body scanners and a range of new techniques to
enhance airport security in the aftermath of the attempted
Christmas Day airline attack, the Prime Minister said on Friday.

Gordon Brown described the failed attempt to bring
down Northwest Airlines Flight 253 to Detroit last week as a
"wake up call" for Britain to move quickly to combat changing
terrorist techniques by updating its security measures.

Reeling out measures taken by Government to tighten
security, Brown said "We need, therefore, to continually
explore the most sophisticated devices capable of identifying
explosives, guns, knives and other such items anywhere in the
body."

"So - in cooperation with President Barack Obama and
the Americans - we will examine a range of new techniques to
enhance airport security systems beyond the traditional
measures, such as pat-down searches and sniffer dogs," Brown
said in an article in the official site of the Prime
Minister`s Office.

"These could include advancing our use of explosive
trace technology, full body scanners and advanced x-ray
technology," he underlined.

The US and many other countries have been reluctant to
introduce body scanners that peer underneath clothing because
of privacy concerns. Privacy advocates say they amount to a
"virtual strip search" because they display an image of the
body onto a computer screen.

Brown said "the enemies of democracy and freedom - now
trying to mastermind death and destruction from Yemen as well
as other better-known homes of international terror such as
Pakistan and Afghanistan - are concealing explosives in ways
which are more difficult to detect.

"So the failed attack in Detroit on Christmas Day
"reminds us of a deeper reality; that almost 10 years after
September 11 international terrorism is still a very real
threat," Brown said.

The Prime Minster also emphasised the need to
investigate how 23-year-old Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam and then to Detroit and "what
more might have been done internationally to stop him."

"In partnership with security agencies abroad, we are
doing everything we can to improve the sharing of information
about individuals of concern," he said.

Noting that the UK has one of the toughest borders in
the world, the prime minister said Britain has already
screened 135 million passenger movements in and out of the
country against watchlists.

"But in light of the Detroit incident we all urgently
need to work together on how we might further tighten these
arrangements - in particular, at what point suspects are added
to the list and when they are deemed too risky to be allowed
to fly, or leave or enter the country - and also into wider
airport security."

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 1, 2010 - 18:59

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