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|Heathrow Launches Biometric Screening |
- Queue jumping the carrot; security the stick, for hi-tech security scheme
BIOMETRIC screening of passengers begins at Heathrow airport today in a trial scheme likely to be extended in the near future.
Under biometric screening, eyes and faces are scanned into a computer, which then 'remembers' and passes on a traveller's details to the next stage of the process.
At first, biometric checks will be voluntary and are to be sold by the authorities as a way to speed through the many delays and hurdles of security at the airport. Volunteers for the scheme will be allowed to jump or bypass normal queues.
"Rather than having to continually show pieces of paper to prove who you are, then your electronic key should make things much faster and much more secure at the same time," enthused Steve Challis of the British Airport Authority, the company which runs Heathrow.
Some Cathay Pacific and Emirates flights will be the first to offer the biometric alternative, with all European flights in and out of Terminal 3 coming next.
The likelihood that all travellers will one day be forced to go down the biometric route was signalled by Immigration Minister Liam Byrne, at Heathrow to help launch the scheme.
"ID systems are fundamental to securing our borders in a more mobile age," Byrne said. "They are crucial to our plans for counting everyone in and out of the country."
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