Action on Rights for Children have confirmed our suspicions about the uselessness of the "see through your children's clothes" scanner trial at the Heathrow Express platform at Paddington railway station in London.
ARC's correspondence with the Department for Transport regarding the Paddington Heathrow Express scanner trial.
Note that the answer from the Department of transport does not attempt to refute that the concerns about such "see through your children;s clothes" scanners constitute "child pornography", according to the current definitions under UK law.
If, as the Department for Transport claim, that "under 18's" were not scanned, then what possible use is such a system against terrorists or even drug smugglers etc ? They already use children as couriers or even as suicide bombers.
To: The Secretary of State for Transport 16th January 2006
Dear Secretary of State,
Re: Body scanners at Paddington station
We have tried to contact your department by telephone, but have not received a response to the message that we left.
We are concerned about the use of scanners at Paddington station. It is not entirely clear whether these are backscatter body scanners such as ‘Rapiscan’, or passive millimetre wave scanners; however, the problem that we foresee is exactly the same in both situations.
In our view, the image that the scanners produce is capable of being indecent. If persons under the age of 18 are scanned, those operating the machinery in order to make images are liable to be committing an offence. That offence would be committed regardless of any purported consent by the child being scanned.
I would draw your attention to the provisions of s1(1)(a) Protection of Children Act 1978 (as amended by s84 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994) which makes it an offence “to take, permit to be taken, or to make any indecent ... pseudo-photograph of a child.” A “child” for the purposes of the 1978 Act is now defined as a person under the age of 18 (see s2(3) and 7(6) of that Act as amended by s45 Sexual Offences Act 2003). Section 7(7) of the 1978 Act provides that “Pseudo-photograph” means an image, whether made by computer-graphics or otherwise howsoever, which appears to be a photograph.”
We have already had discussions with the Metropolitan Police during 2004-2005 about the issue of scanning children, when we contacted them both on our own behalf and on that of Liberty. At the time, we were assured that scanners would not be used on children.
We should be grateful to receive your comments on this matter, and an assurance that body scanners will not be used on children under 18 in any circumstances.
We received the following reply on 15th February:
“Thank you for your letter of 16th January 2006 to the Secretary of State for Transport. I have been asked to reply. I note your concern about the use of scanners at Paddington Station and the issue of scanning children.
“I would like to assure you that our policy is not to use body scanners on children under 18 years of age during the Paddington Station Pilot. If I can be of any further assistance etc”