Manchester Airport's body scanners scrapped

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Body scanner
Image caption,
The body scanners were deemed safe, according to a report in March

Passenger body scanners are being scrapped at Manchester Airport, officials have said.

The machines will not be used from October as they failed to get a decision from the European Commission (EC) after the three-year trial ended.

They will be replaced by "privacy-friendly" scanners at a cost of £1.3m and an extra 55 security staff.

Andrew Harrison from the airport said it was "frustrated" because all parties were happy with the scanners.

Mr Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at Manchester Airport Group, said: "Everyone involved is happy with them - they are safe, security like them and in a recent survey 100% of passengers were satisfied with them and prefer them to frisking.

"It's frustrating that Brussels has allowed this successful trial to end by failing to make a decision on them at an additional cost of £1.3m to Manchester Airport."

He added: "Our security surveys and those run by the Department for Transport show passengers regularly rate their experience at Manchester as one of the best security processes in the UK if not Europe.

"There's no doubt that body scanners play a big part in these results."

Cartoon images

The body scanners use a low dose of X-rays to scan through clothing, producing naked images of passengers to identify whether they have concealed items.

They were deemed safe in a report by the EC in March.

The EC had stopped trials of the scanners last November while concerns they could emit harmful levels of radiation were investigated. However, Manchester Airport continued to use them as it was an existing trial.

Unlike the body scanners, the new "privacy-friendly" scanners will not need a member of security in a remote room to check the images.

They produce automatic cartoon-style images of passengers, thus providing more privacy.

But additional staff are required to frisk passengers when the images show potential "threat areas" suggesting there might be concealed items.

A spokesman for the EC said: "It is important to remember that we are now coming to the end of what was always a trial and while the European Commission authorised the use of the ionising radiation 'Backscatter' scanners back in 2010.

"Technology has taken significant steps forward since then allowing for increased privacy and a move away from radiation technology.

"The Commission takes note of Manchester Airport's intended upgrade to radio frequency based millimetre wave technology scanners offering the highest protection to the privacy of those subjected to screening."

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