Railway safety and crime

18.09.19

British Transport Police launches train station scanners trial

In a bid to tackle violent crime in London, British Transport Police (BTP) is rolling out a five-day trial of new body scanners at Stratford train station.

The scheme will be supported by Metropolitan Police and will be able to detect guns, knives and explosive devises on a person.

Last week saw seven murders in seven days in London alone, and although they did not happen exclusively in stations, the airport-style screening hopes to reduce these types of crimes.

The initiative was tested in Stratford station for the first time on Monday (16 September) and has the ability to scan 2,000 passengers per hour without causing delays.

Using heat sensors, they flag up areas of the body where heat is being blocked. Judging by the size and shape of the hidden object, BTP officers are able to get a good indication of a potential concealed weapon.

The sensors can work from 30ft away meaning passengers can go about their business without knowing they are being scanned.

Unlike the use of physical searches, the scanners cannot tell an individual’s gender, age or ethnicity from the images it produces. The scanner does not emit any radiation or display intimate body parts.

The stop and search technique has come in for criticism and this new technology could assist officers in detecting weapons without relying on the controversial system.

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

"Twenty thousand 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, 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.”

The trial hopes to enable the Home Office, BTP and the Met to contemplate such technologies as an effective method to combat knife crime.

Image: Home Office

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