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British Transport Police trial body scanners that screen for weapons

Body scanners used to screen passengers for hidden explosives and weapons are being used for the first time at a London railway station.

In a bid to tackle knife and violent crime in the capital, a five-day pilot sponsored by the home office saw thousands of commuters in Stratford station, east London scanned without having to walk through any checkpoints.

The technology – which can detect weapons including guns, knives and explosive devices concealed under clothing at distances of up to 30ft is a creation by British company Thruvision. The equipment produces thermal images, showing the silhouettes of concealed weapons through clothing. London-listed Thruvision sold 109 screening devices in 2019, up from 57 in 2018, and acquired 11 new customers in the year including the US State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL). It is already used on the Los Angeles Metro, which last year became the first mass transport system in the US to adopt it.

A sign erected at Stratford station by British Transport Police stated that they were trialling new security technology. The sign directed members of the public with questions to the team or an email address at the Home Office. The tool would not show intimate body parts, nor is it able to identify a person’s gender, age or ethnicity so the public should not be worried about the invasiveness of the technology stated the Home Office.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “No-one should feel they can walk the streets with a knife and expect to get away with it.

“We are pulling out all the stops in a battle against knife crime in London and across the country.”

Assistant Chief Constable Robin Smith, from British Transport Police, said: “Fortunately, knife crime on the rail network is very low.

“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.”

As X-Ray scanning specialists, Shape Services Ltd are always interested in advancing technological developments in the security sector especially when they are being implemented in our own country. The use of technology to detect threats is a growing market and we are always keen to find out about technological applications.

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