Police to use scanners to 'frisk' suspects from up to 20 yards away

Police will use high-tech scanners to ‘frisk’ suspects without them knowing from up to 20 yards away in latest move in the war on gun and knife crime

  • Police will soon be using new high-tech portable scanners to ‘frisk’ suspects 
  • The devices can detect concealed weapons from a distance of 20 yards away
  • A breakthrough in the war on knife crime, it is due to be showcased this week 

Police will soon be using a new high-tech scanner that can ‘frisk’ suspects without them knowing.

Hailed as a breakthrough in the war on gun and knife crime, the portable device can detect a concealed weapon through a suspect’s clothing – from a distance of up to 20 yards.

The device can check groups of people or even whole crowds as they arrive at concert venues or sporting events, without the need for time-consuming searches by hand.

Called Sword, the system uses the same technology as an airport scanner but shrunk to the size of an iPad or tablet.

The portable device, called Sword can detect a concealed weapon through a suspect’s clothing – from a distance of up to 20 yards (pictured, police officer standing next to medical equipment on the ground at the scene of a multiple stabbing in Barking)

Created by a Californian tech entrepreneur, it is due to be showcased at a Home Office security and policing exhibition in Hampshire this week.

But it is understood that at least one UK police force has already placed an order.

Sword fires harmless electromagnetic radiation at people walking past it. Linked to a databank, it can recognise the outline of knives and guns and a positive match will trigger an alert to the police, showing them what is being carried and where it is hidden.

A 10in screen shows no intrusive images until it spots a weapon.

Facial recognition databanks can then be used to identify an offender who has no idea he has been ‘searched’ from a safe distance .

Police can then arrest the suspect or perform a targeted stop-and-search. The device was developed by former intelligence operative Barry Oberholzer, 36, who was inspired by the Bataclan terror attack in Paris in 2015 to find a way to turn the tables on those plotting mass killings.

The system has generated £5.4 million worth of worldwide sales with another £27.2 million in the pipeline.

The move comes following rising incidents of knife crimes. In February, Sudesh Amman was shot dead by police after going on a stabbing rampage through Streatham in London

Pictured: Police officers on the scene outside an Iceland supermarket after Sudesh Amman went on a knife rampage down Streatham High Road, Lambeth

The machine is designed to be able to ‘learn’ new shapes and will soon also be able to detect explosives.

Doug Sear, sales director of UK distributor Emergency Protection, said: ‘This will help break down the suspicion around stop-and-search because it takes the guesswork out of it.

‘It’s not looking for a type of person, it just sees the weapon.’

Graeme Pearson, security lecturer at Glasgow University and former head of the Scottish Crime & Drug Enforcement Agency, said: ‘In theory, this could remove a great deal of heat around the issue of human rights in stop-and-search.

‘And many criminals will be unnerved and deterred from carrying weapons if they know that something that is effective and hard to spot is being used by the police.’

In 2018/19, there were 43,516 knife crimes in England and Wales, up 82 per cent on 2013/14 and the fifth consecutive annual increase. Gun crime is also on the rise, with 6,734 crimes in the year to June 2019.

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