Programme Cyclamen forms a key part of the government's counter-terrorism strategy. It involves the screening of incoming freight, vehicles, passengers and pedestrians to detect and deter the illicit importation of radioactive and nuclear material by terrorists or criminals.
Countries including Finland, Russia and the USA use similar equipment and procedures.
How radiation screening operates
Fixed radiation detection equipment has been installed at ports and airports. There is also mobile capability supporting the fixed portals ensuring that air, sea and Channel Tunnel traffic entering the UK is subject to screening.
The equipment is entirely passive and is able to detect radiation emitted from the vehicle or object being examined. The equipment doesn't emit radiation and there is no effect on any object or person passing through the detection system.
If an illicit source is suspected or found, specialist authorities will ensure that these incidents are dealt with quickly and safely, minimising the risk and inconvenience to the public.
Sources of radiation
Some radioactive material may be carried legally by approved operators, whilst some foodstuffs, ceramics, and other items naturally emit radiation. In addition, a number of medical treatments emit radiation.
The screening equipment can identify a wide variety of radioactive sources and action is taken to ensure that legitimate importations can pass through quickly.