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London Rail Commuters Screened for Weapons in New Tech Trial

A weapons detection trial funded by the British government will take place in Stratford station, London, as part of the country’s drive to crack down on knife crime.

The specialized technology, made by Thruvision, is designed to detect weapons including guns, knives and explosive devices concealed under clothing at distances of up to 30 feet.

It works by revealing objects concealed in clothing that block a person’s body heat. Trained police officers will be able to identify objects that could be used as a weapon, without needing physical searches. The technology enables 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 technology has been vetted and approved by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration and more than 250 units have been deployed worldwide in 19 countries over the last five years for applications including mass transit and aviation security, facilities and public area protection, customs, and border control and supply chain loss prevention. The Los Angeles Metro is one of Thrusvision’s mass transit customers.

The initial five-day trial at Stratford station this September will be run by British Transport Police, with support from the Metropolitan Police.

Transport Security Minister, Baroness Vere, said improving safety at stations is paramount to ensuring that everyone can use the railways with confidence, and added that technology should be at the forefront of that mission.

The trial will look at how officers can use technology to detect if an individual is carrying a knife without causing any personal disruption, such as stopping the individual or requiring them to empty their pockets.

It will enable the government and law enforcement to consider whether such technologies can play a significant role in efforts to combat knife crime.

The U.K. government’s Joint Security and Resilience Centre is providing approximately £40,000 to deliver the trial and will continue to explore other technologies through collaborating with other government departments and industry.

The trial follows the recent launch of a national campaign to recruit 20,000 new police officers – the biggest police recruitment drive in the U.K. in decades. Additionally, new government legislation has made it simpler for police to use stop and search as they work to tackle violent crime.

 

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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