Technology which can detect whether people are carrying hidden weapons will be used by police for the first time in a London train station in a bid to tackle knife crime.
The five-day trial of the new equipment began in Stratford train station, east London, on Monday, the Home Office said.
Designed by Oxfordshire-based company Thruvision, the technology – already in use on the Los Angeles Metro – has been developed to spot weapons like guns, knives and explosive devices concealed under clothing at distances of up to 30ft by looking for objects that block a person’s body heat.
The Home Office has spent around £40,000 on the scheme which is being used by British Transport and Metropolitan Police officers.
The trial will look at how officers can use technology to find weapons without having to stop the individual or get them to empty their pockets and if it would be effective in the battle against knife crime.
The technology allows 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 Home Office said.
Kit Malthouse, the minister for crime and policing, said the Government was “pulling out all the stops in the battle against knife crime” and the equipment shows technology can have “an enormous impact on public safety”, adding: “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 (TfL), 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.
“This technology trial will help the police best achieve our aim.”