Updated: Friday, 7th August 2020 @ 1:30pm

Airport iris scanners breakdown 573 times in one year – following Manchester International scrap

Airport iris scanners breakdown 573 times in one year – following Manchester International scrap

By Dean Wilkins

Airport security iris scanners were broken or faulty 573 times in one year, the Government admitted today – following Manchester International’s removal of them.

Ten scanners across eight UK airports consistently suffered problems between March 2011 and February 2012 revealed a written parliamentary answer to Home Affairs Select Committee Chairman Keith Vaz.

The problematic security scheme is being cut back as Manchester and Birmingham airports have already scrapped them and the UK Border Agency is rejecting new registrations to use them.

Mr Vaz said: "I am shocked by the unreliability of technology that has cost the British taxpayer £9.1 million.

"This demonstrates the serious problems the UKBA has had with technology under successive governments. Millions of pounds have been wasted on equipment that simply does not work.

"What should have happened is that there should have been an investment in people rather than machines. This may have helped to reduce the lengthy queues we have seen at a number of airports in the past few months.

"The Home Secretary must ensure any new technology, particularly e-gates, are not plagued by the same problems. They must be effective, efficient and most importantly, reliable."

Immigration Minister Damian Green, who revealed the reported breakdowns, said: "These reported fault figures reflect various levels of severity and a fault would not necessarily result in the closure of a gate.

"Any fault with gates has no impact on full checks being carried out on passengers - if any part of the process of carrying out checks fails, the gate in question is closed until full service is restored.

"In addition, officers continually monitor the gates to ensure they are operating effectively, to deal with any alerts and to stop any misuse of gates."

There are currently seven iris gates across five airports and the total cost of the scanners was £9.1million between 2006 and April 2011.


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