Pat Down Out: Virtual Strip Search In?

By Londonist Last edited 100 months ago
Pat Down Out: Virtual Strip Search In?

By ricoeurian via the Londonist Flickrpool
As if airport security wasn't already a chore, Gordon Brown has announced that full body scanners will be introduced at a number of UK airports in the near future. We should effectively prepare to suffer the ignominy of public nudity; the machines have been referred to as "virtual strip searches", which could provoke amusement among the operators.

The changes have been brought in due to Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's attempt to detonate an improvised explosive during a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day. Fortunately, UCL graduate Abdulmutallab was prevented from detonating the explosive, but questions have arisen about how he managed to get the explosive through security.

Surprisingly, this is not a blanket move - BAA, who control six of the UK's airports (including Heathrow, Stansted and Glasgow) have agreed to instate the scanners "as soon as is practical", but it looks as if Gatwick may eschew the technology (for now).

Despite a gradual introduction, we can expect delays and you have to wonder where the money for the £100,000 scanners will come from. Fortunately, the scanners remove the need for the intrusive "pat-down" searches that are currently custom. Aviation rules will also change to accommodate the new rules, with transit passengers also undergoing the checks.

But in an age when terrorists are getting smarter, is any extra security a bonus or is it action for the sake of it in an attempt to reassure passengers that something is being done?

By Will Hines

Last Updated 04 January 2010


Minimal increased security return. Maximum inconvenience and mistreatment of passengers.


Will it be like that scene in Total Recall, where Arnie and the baddie run through the scanner, thus appearing as poorly rendered gun-toting green skeletons? Hope so. That was cool.


I've seen one of these whole body scanners, the current models offer a monchrome display of limited resolution and offer a view similar to being in your undies only and in a sort of 3D !!

Not quite sure if the latest 'bomber' who had his underpants lined with explosives would have been caught with one of these scanners as the resolution around 'sensitive' areas is a lot lower then for the rest of the body. This mainly due to the protests by folk who don't go to the beach in swimming cozzies often.