Police trial new weapons scanners in bid to tackle knife crime

16 September 2019, 15:56

The scanners will be trialled for five days at Stratford station
The scanners will be trialled for five days at Stratford station. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Police are trialling new technology which can detect whether people are carrying hidden weapons in a bid to tackle knife crime.

The new scanners will be trialled for five days at Stratford train station in east London, according to the Home Office.

The technology, which was designed by Oxfordshire-based company Thruvision, has been developed to spot guns, knives and explosive devices concealed under clothing at distances of up to 30ft by looking for objects that block a person's body heat.

It is already in use on the Los Angeles Metro.

The Home Office has spent around £40,000 on the scheme which is being used by British Transport and Metropolitan Police officers.

The trial will look at how officers can use technology to find weapons without having to stop the individual or get them to empty their pockets and if it would be effective in the battle against knife crime.

The technology allows police officers to see the size, shape and location of any concealed item.

It does not show any intimate body parts and it is impossible to tell an individual's gender, age or ethnicity from the imagery it produces, the Home Office said.

Kit Malthouse, the minister for crime and policing, said: “We are pulling out all the stops in a battle against knife crime, in London and across the country.

“20,000 more police officers will help but new technology can make an enormous impact on public safety, as this equipment shows.

“No one should feel they can walk the streets with a knife and expect to get away with it.”

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance and policing at Transport for London (TfL), said: "London's transport network is a safe, low-crime environment and we are committed to working with the police to ensure it stays that way. "We want to stop anyone bringing a knife or a weapon onto London's public transport. "This technology trial will help the police best achieve our aim."