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Customs officers get X-ray machines for down under searches

Aussie Doctors relieved of drug-sniffing duties

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Aussie customs officers are to get right under the skin of visitors to the Lucky Country with body scanners that will allow them to peruse suspected smugglers' internals without the need for a doctor's expertise.

Ingesting drug-filled condoms and the like has become a favourite quick and dirty method for smugglers to evade customs.

Australia's jumpy border police are frustrated at having to take suspected smugglers to hospitals so that Doctors can perform X-rays to ensure the ultimate internal search.

So the Federal Parliament is considering legislation that will give customs officers body scanners that allow them to check suspects' insides without anyone having to get their hands dirty.

A trial will kick off later this year, with suspects being given the option of either the customs quickie scan, or the traditional hospital, waiting room, gown variety. Pregnant women, the mentally impaired and under-18s are all exempt.

Home Affairs minister Brendan O'Connor told the Herald Sun the new system would help all travellers, as it would "quickly exonerate the innocent and ensure a minimum of delay for legitimate travellers".

Arguably a more focused screening policy might be better and cheaper. Last year, 200 people were taken to hospital for internal searches, the Herald Sun reports. Of those, just 50 were found to have drugs in their bodies.

It's not clear what else they might have found though. Crims have pushing the envelope of what might be kept in the ultimate hurt locker. Mobile phones are current favourite, and one Florida lag recently nabbed with a full prison survival kit including drugs stash, syringe, cigarette and matches and a number of receipts in his lower compartment. ®

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