'Naked' body scanners a failure, police union says

'Naked' body scanners a failure, police union says
Photo: DPA

One of Germany’s police unions is calling for the controversial “naked scanners” at airports to be abandoned after a trial at Hamburg showed an unacceptably high rate of false alarms.


The head of the Gewerkschaft der Polizei (GdP) police union, Bernhard Witthaut, told the daily Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Monday that the two full body scanners had proved a failure.

“The trial in Hamburg has shown that body scanners aren’t suited right now for widespread deployment,” he said.

The Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday that the scanners were sounding alerts 70 percent of the time, according to an internal report. The security devices, which critics refer to as “naked scanners,” are controversial because they give a clear impression of the person’s body under their clothing, raising privacy concerns.

Witthaut said the security levels at German airports had not been improved by such measures. The test run at Hamburg had also demonstrated that the body scanners slowed down rather than sped up passenger screening because of the high rate of false alarms.

Witthaut called on the federal government to ensure there were enough adequately trained federal police officers to provide airport security.

But a spokesman for the Interior Ministry denied that the scanners had been a failure, saying that the trial had ended only this weekend and that the results needed to be analysed.

According to the report cited by Welt am Sonntag, the scanners had trouble with multiple-layered clothing, with zippers and with metal buttons and studs. They were also over-sensitive to movement.

Nearly 800,000 passengers have voluntarily passed through the scanners since they were introduced at Hamburg airport in September last year. The results of the tests will be taken account along with legal, political and financial considerations in determining whether the scanners will be used more widely.

The Local/djw



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