Trials of the full-body (or ‘naked’) scanner at Manchester Airport have been a runaway success, according to bosses, with only 5% of surveyed travellers taking umbrage with the controversial machines.
Manchester was one of the first hubs in the UK to receive the hi-tech device, alongside Birmingham and Heathrow.
The machine, which creates an image resembling an X-ray, albeit with the flesh still attached to the bones, can peer under a traveller’s clothes, helping security officials find explosives or weapons that have been squirrelled away in a shirt sleeve, or sticky-taped to a limb.
However, regardless of how effective the full-body scanner is at catching terrorists and brigands, the images that are created by the machine have been labelled both ‘pornographic', as the photographs reveal the shape of breasts and genitals, and ‘illegal', with regard to UK child pornography laws.
The former trait caught the attention of UK newspapers in March this year, after two Muslim women refused to enter the device, citing medical and religious objections to the scan. To date, the pair are the only people to have declined to be scanned, according to Manchester Airport chiefs.
Manchester currently has two full-body scanners, but its growing popularity, replacing the traditional ‘pat-down’ search in May 2010, has prompted the purchase of another £80,000 machine, due to be installed at the end of the month. Manchester estimates that around 400,000 people have used the device in the last 12 months.
Airport boss, Andrew Harrison, explained the lure of the naked scanner, stating that passengers "prefer the body scanner because it is significantly quicker" and because it "doesn’t involve being frisked, nor does it require them to remove their coats, jackets, and belts.” He also noted that “being frisked” had been one of the most common complaints at the airport.
Whilst some holidaymakers might still have some reservations about a machine that can see under their clothes, Manchester Airport claims to have gone to “great lengths” to make sure that the images produced by the scanner are kept safe.
After all, coming home from holiday to find your naked body plastered all over the internet is enough to put a downer on anybody’s day.