New ‘scan-and-search’ technology being trialled at Stratford station

New ‘scan-and-search’ technology being trialled at Stratford station

A trial of technology designed to detect if a person is carrying a concealed weapon has begun at Stratford station.

Funded by the Home Office and run by British Transport Police, the initial five-day pilot project, which began yesterday, is being conducted with support from the Metropolitan Police and with the approval of Transport for London.

Characterised by the Home Office and its minister of state Kit Malthouse as “part of the government’s continued drive to crack down on knife crime”, the trial is deploying technology made by a company called Thruvision which, the Home Office and Malthouse say, “can safely detect weapons including guns, knives and explosive devices concealed under clothing at distances of up to 30 feet”.

The technology is describing as working by revealing on a screen the shapes of objects under clothing that “block a person’s body heat”, enabling police officers using the equipment to spot possible potential weapons being carried. The system is already in use on the Los Angeles Metro system.

Malthouse was Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing from 2008 until 2012 when he was London Mayor and in that position oversaw the early introduction of greater use of stop-and-search and use of metal-detecting technology at transport hubs, such as wands and “knife arches”, as part of an attempt to quell an increase in violent crime in the preceding period.

He is now in charge of delivering Johnson’s promise to recruit an additional 20,000 police officers nationally and claims that “new technology can make an enormous impact on public safety, as this equipment shows”.

The trail has been welcomed by Conservative London Mayor candidate Shaun Bailey, who says on Twitter that the move shows “the government acting on my suggestion to bring scan and search to the United Kingdom” and claims the technology will “keep Londoners safe and put pressure on the criminals in our communities”.

Sadiq Khan and Bailey’s fellow mayoral candidates, Siân Berry of the Green Party and Siobhan Benita of the Liberal Democrats, have been invited to comment.

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