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Eye scanners put off at airports

Hi-tech eye scanners were turned off at two out of four English airports where they were functioning. The scanners were introduced in 2005, at Manchester and Birmingham airports.

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The Iris Recognition Immigration System (IRIS) was first introduced into Heathrow in 2005 and rolled out at Birmingham, Gatwick and Manchester in the following year.

The system works by photographing a registered passenger’s iris patterns and storing the information in a database together with their passport details.

They will continue working at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports until after the 2012 Olympics.

A UK Border Agency spokeswoman said the government was examining the use of the scanners in the light of new technology.

A Home Office spokesman said that they were at present considering the future of IRIS in the context of their broader approach to automation at the UK border. The spokesman added that IRIS registration had been terminated.

The UK also manages e-Passport gates at 15 airports, which were open to UK and EEA nationals who have an electronically-chipped biometric passport.

E-Passport gates use face detection technology to compare the faces of UK and EEA passengers to images held in their biometric e-Passports

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