Plans to introduce new security scanners in UK airports have been left in disarray following a recent trial of the system has highlighted significant flaws in the technology. The scanners which are intended to detect nervousness and high levels of stress related to possible criminal intent have been in use at Stansted Airport over the last month.
Staff operating the new apparatus ran into difficulties early on in the trial when it became apparent that the walk-through scanners were so sensitive that they were picking up on the ordinary guilt of passengers rather than detecting the apprehensiveness and sense of foreboding of potential terrorists. Stansted Head of Security Clive Miller told us 'it was obvious from the start that the scanners were too sensitive, the alarm was being triggered so often we couldn't tell if the passenger wanted to blow a plane up in mid-air or if they were just feeling bad about fancying the wife's sister''.
The system has been designed to pick up on any intention on the part of the subject to violate the law but its over-sensitivity means that it is also picking up on other personality traits and forms of guilt. Miller explained 'we've had infantile guilt, parental guilt, sexual guilt, shame, rage, vulnerability, schadenfreude and latent homosexuality. We had a few old Radio 1 DJs go through and it went off like a fruit machine hitting the jackpot. And don't talk to me about the Catholics, they set it off from about 50 yards. We even had Tony Blair go through, funnily enough he was about the only person that didn't set it off, amazing really'.
The project is the brainchild of British inventor Professor Simon Collins whose company ScanSmart developed the technology in co-operation with a team of scientists from NASA. Professor Collins is in no doubt as to the root of the problem 'it would be wrong to apportion blame but the fault lies with NASA, you know what Americans are like, they have to be so in touch with their feelings all the time, I mean the scanners are meant to weed out terrorists and suicide bombers not uncover potential guests for Oprah, oh well back to the lab'.