The British Home Office has announced that the British Transport Police will use body scanning technology that can detect concealed weapons at a distance of up to 9 meters, as part of a five-day equipment trial at Stratford Station in East London, China Daily reported.
The technology has been developed by British company Thruvision, whose existing clients include the United States’ State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and is already used on the metro system in Los Angeles.
“By using training and experience police officers will be able to identify objects that could be used as a weapon, without needing physical searches,” the Home Office said.
The technology uses thermal images to detect items concealed in clothing, but the Home Office insisted it would not be able to identify the age, ethnicity or gender of the people being looked at, the report said.
Cuts to police numbers have been followed by a highly publicized outbreak of serious knife crime in London. The Home Office said it was investing — 40,000 pounds (US$49,500) in the trial and would also “continue to explore other technologies.”
“We are pulling out all the stops in a battle against knife crime, in London and across the country,” said Crime, Policing and Fire Minister Kit Malthouse. “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.”
Stratford is the area of East London in which the 2012 Olympic Park is situated, and the redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhood that the Olympic Games brought about has seen it become a major shopping and leisure destination, and a huge transport hub, with its station serving an estimated 110,000 passengers each day.
“Fortunately, knife crime on the rail network is very low,” said BTP Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith. “In support of the Home Office and other police forces, we are keen to explore how technology can assist us in tackling violent crime head on.”
Transport for London ‘s Director of Compliance and Policing Siwan Hayward said the trial was to help police, rather than in response any perceived specific danger on the transport network, the report 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,” she said.
“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.”
It has not yet been announced when the trial will take place, or if people will have an option to opt out of it.