March 10, 2006: Iris Scanning Technology Launched At UK's Busiest Airport Terminal
New technology launched at Heathrow's Terminal One
Britain's busiest airport terminal has introduced a fast-track channel through UK immigration checks.
Heathrow Terminal One has launched iris-scanning technology which allows UK citizens and some foreigners to skip passport checks.
They can pre-register a photograph of the iris of their eye, and then have their iris scanned on arrival by an automated booth.
The technology, known as the Iris Recognition Immigration System or Project Iris, has been operating at Heathrow Terminals Two and Four since last June.
But its launch at Terminal One today sees it expand to the busiest terminal in the UK, with 21 million passengers a year.
Immigration minister Tony McNulty said: “With over 97 million people entering the UK in 2005, it is important that the UK remains at the forefront of the latest technology in immigration controls and the Government's commitment to Project Iris demonstrates that.
“Secure and effective border controls are vital to safeguard our citizens against terrorism, serious and organised crime and illegal immigration, while at the same time facilitating entry for legitimate travellers.”
Apart from British citizens, Project Iris is open to frequent visitors to the UK and foreigners with leave to remain in Britain.
The biometric technology works by photographing a passenger's iris patterns and storing the data in a database with their passport details.
Registered travellers who are recognised by the system are allowed through automated barriers in the immigration arrivals hall.
Project Iris will also be installed at Gatwick North and South, Heathrow Terminal Three, Stansted, Birmingham and Manchester Terminals One and Two by the end of this year.
The Government has spent 2.86 million on the technology.
Last July's London suicide bombings led to the temporary closure of Project Iris pilot projects at Heathrow, but they re-opened on January 3.
Copyright Press Association 2006