Manchester airport has beefed up the security team that operates its body scanners following the government’s decision to make the safety procedure mandatory.
The airport now employs six staff instead of four to operate the machine in Terminal Two. The move is designed to ensure any passengers who are concerned about the technology can be reassured of its safety and their privacy.
Spokesman Russell Craig said up to 500 passengers — about 5% of the terminal’s total daily footfall — were now screened each day, after the government made the safety measure mandatory at both Manchester and Heathrow airports on February 1.
“To date we’ve had no refusals from passengers,” said Craig.
“We’ve had the additional staff helping out so when people say they’re a bit worried, rather than just march them out of the building we can talk to them about it, show them the process and allay a lot of their fears.
Video: How the scanner is used
“It is the privacy issue that people are most concerned about,” said Craig.
“Until the scanner becomes commonplace and people are used to them then we are prepared to invest time and money explaining it to them. It is a delicate pact that we have with the public.”
He added that the airport had started installing a body scanner and training security staff in Terminal Three, and that a machine would be added in Terminal One shortly. The scanners are expected to be in operation in all three terminals by the end of next week.
New security rules on body scanners make it mandatory for passengers who are selected for a scan to participate.
- Passengers who have requested a private search prior to or after passing through the walk-through metal detection equipment.
- Passengers who have been referred for a private search following an unresolved metal detection alarm or if the security officer believes that further investigation is required following a hand search.
- If explosive trace detection equipment causes an alarm to sound, or if vapour detection equipment has caused an alarm.
- Any passenger can also be selected at random without regard to personal characteristics.
Under the new rules, any refusal to be body scanned will result in passengers not being allowed to travel.