Full-body scanning and other intrusive security measures, including controversial ethnicity and gender-based profiling, are to be introduced at British airports starting as early as later this month as part of an overhaul of airport security.

This follows the Christmas Day bomb scare when a Nigerian youth allegedly tried to blow up a plane over Detroit.

But critics called the move a “knee-jerk” reaction and voiced concern that targeted profiling would lead to “stigmatising” people of certain ethnic origin and religious background.

Airport operators warned that travellers faced longer queues and delays as a result of proposed additional checks that would include increased body searches and singling out passengers suspected of “suspicious” behaviour such as paying for their tickets with cash or buying them at the last-minute.

Aviation experts dismissed the proposed measures as “window-dressing” arguing that what was needed was more “intelligence-led” surveillance.

“The government is about to implement measures that will result in long queues at airports but will have no impact on security,” one expert was reported as saying.

There were also privacy concerns with experts warning that full body-scanning could breach child pornography laws and demanded that children under 18 should be exempted.

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