SMITHS Detection, part of the global engineering business Smiths Group, today announced a contract with HM Customs and Excise for narcotics detection portal systems to be installed at UK airports.
The first two walk-through portals have been purchased by Customs to be deployed at Heathrow Airport and Manchester Airport following successful trials last year.
During the trials, the Sentinel II portals alerted Customs officials to passengers who had hidden drugs in their bags and shoes as well as to drug mules who had swallowed small parcels of narcotics.
John Whyte, Head of Detection London at HM Revenue and Customs, said: "HM Revenue and Customs are committed to maximising the use of technology to assist our officers in the fight against the drugs trade.
Successful trials, which included the detection of 3 kgs of heroin at Manchester Airport, demonstrated to us the value of the Sentinel ll as an additional means of improving the security of the borders of the UK."
Smiths Detection is now working with HM Customs to develop the Sentinel II portals ahead of a further roll-out at Green Channels for narcotics detection in airports across the UK.
They work by using gentle puffs of air to dislodge particles trapped on hair, body, clothing and shoes. These particles are then directed into the Sentinel II for analysis.
Trace amounts of more than 40 different drugs can be detected and identified in seconds.
This is the first deployment of Sentinel II trace portals in the UK. Outside the UK, the Sentinel II is widely deployed to detect explosives and illicit drugs at airports, government buildings, customs checkpoints, nuclear facilities, prisons and courts.
Stephen Phipson, Managing Director of Smiths Detection, said: The Sentinel II is a fast and effective system for detecting traces of drugs and explosives on people.
It offers Customs officers a huge advance in technology for drugs detection in the arrivals halls of UK airports. It is the ideal complement to our x-ray systems and Ionscan trace detectors for baggage, already installed in security checkpoints of airport departure halls around the world.