London, UK – British police are testing a device designed to detect concealed weapons.
Technical details are sketchy for security reasons, with the developers simply saying that the prototype scanner uses electromagnetic waves in order to pick up ‘reflections’ from concealed guns, gun barrels or knives without the need to be close to the subject.
What sounds more innovative is that it also uses neural network technology to identify the weapon and ignore everyday items carried by the subject. The new device is non-intrusive – no image of the subject’s body is produced.
The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), is sponsored and supported by the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office Scientific Development Branch.
Catherine Coates, EPSRC head of innovation, said: “This represents a great return on public research investment. This device could save lives and free up valuable policing time currently taken up with gun and knife detection.”
Tests are currently being carried out by the Metropolitan Police Operational Technology Department to see how the scanner could work in practice. If successful, the finished product could be available to police forces within two years.
Stuart Ibbotson, Metropolitan Police chief engineer, said: “We are still at early stages and a way off deploying operational capability yet, but so far results are very encouraging.
“This kind of device would be of great service to officers, helping them to catch people carrying guns and knives without putting themselves in increased danger. It could also help to target stop and search to further increase its effectiveness.”