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PM: UK airports to get perv scanners next week

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Gordon Brown today said body scanners will be introduced in UK airports next week.

The PM didn't say which airports or who will be scanned.

The Home Secretary has suggested travellers will be selected for scanning by profiling techniques, prompting concerns from the human rights watchdog.

A spokeswoman for the largest airport operator BAA maintained its line, held since soon after the failed Christmas day bombing, that it plans to introduce scanners at Heathrow but could not say when or discuss plans at other airports.

A body scanner has been in trials at Manchester Airport since October.

We've contacted the Department of Transport for clarification of the PM's announcement today and will update you as soon as it responds.

The current generation of scanners - whether using backscatter X-rays or millimetre waves - typically produce a ghostly image of a subject's naked body in an attempt to reveal concealed weapons or contraband. Doubts have been raised over whether they would have detected Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab's device concealed in his underwear.

Brown also said the government is sponsoring "research on the most sophisticated devices capable of identifying potential explosives anywhere on the body", an apparent reference to terahertz technology, which we wrote about last week.

Gordon Brown's speech is here. ®

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