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London Heathrow to deploy body-scanners in weeks

London Heathrow Airport is to deploy body scanners in a few weeks' time, UK prime minister Gordon Brown has confirmed.

The prime minister made the statement to Parliament today.

Plans to introduce the scanners follow the attempted attack on a Delta Air Lines aircraft operating to Detroit from Amsterdam Schiphol on 25 December.

UK home secretary Alan Johnson told Parliament yesterday that the first scanners would be introduced "in around three weeks" at Heathrow.

"Over time they will be introduced more widely and we will be requiring all UK airports to introduce explosive trace-detection equipment by the end of the year," he adds.

"We are discussing urgently with the airport industry the best way of doing all this, which will include a code of practice dealing with the operational and privacy issues involved."

Johnson says that the alleged attacker of Delta flight 253 involved a device which had "clearly been constructed with the precise aim of making detection by existing screening methods extremely difficult".

He says that Heathrow operator BAA has started training airport security staff in behavioural analysis techniques, to enable them to assess whether certain passengers should be singled out for additional checks.

"Beyond that we are examining carefully whether additional targeted passenger profiling might help to enhance airport security," adds Johnson.

"We will be considering all the issues involved, mindful of civil liberties concerns, aware that identity-based profiling has its limitations, but conscious of our overriding obligations to protect people's life and liberty."

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