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Dancers X-rayed at clubs

Herald Sun
14apr04

NIGHTCLUBBERS could be subjected to mobile X-ray scanners that see through their clothes in police raids on drug-dealer havens.

The X-ray machine shows the body with blurry detail of the anatomy and anything concealed beneath clothing.

Police in Britain said the images were "very graphic" but hailed their use as a fantastic success.

Victoria Police are monitoring the device, which has been used to arrest dealers and armed thugs at London clubs.

Low radiation X-rays penetrate a quarter of a centimetre into the suspect's skin. It can reveal drugs, knives, guns and explosives under clothing.

In about six seconds the scanner produces a 360 degree image of the body without clothing.

Suspects' bodies show up as a light colour on a monitor while foreign objects are dark.

A raid in London this week lead to more than 30 arrests for cannabis possession, carrying a knife and handling of stolen goods.

Suspects were reportedly given the option of a strip search or using the X-ray, with most choosing the machine.

The scanner is believed to be in use around the world in airports, court buildings, prisons and government buildings.

British police claim the radiation from the machine is 1500 times weaker than a medical X-ray.

The machine, which is transported on a large truck, is worth more than $300,000 and weighs about half a tonne.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman said police were monitoring use of the new device.

"We will be watching and seeing how other agencies use it," she said.

But the president of Liberty Victoria, Greg Connellan, said the group would strongly oppose the machine's use.

"This is very much similar to a strip search," he said. "This is intrusive and strips away someone's dignity . . . it is a shift towards searching people at will."

Mr Connellan said he was also concerned about the potential health implications of exposing people to radiation.

"We have seen in Victoria the widespread searching of people," he said.

"This is not appropriate -- no more appropriate than what they did at Tasty nightclub -- just because you are going to use a machine."

Patrons were strip searched in a raid on Tasty Nightclub, in Flinders Lane, almost a decade ago.

The raid cost the police more than $6 million in payouts and led to disciplinary action.

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