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Government invests in knife-detection tech research

The Home Office and the Department for Transport are channelling more than £460,000 into fast-tracking the development and deployment of technologies that can detect concealed blades in public spaces

The Home Office and the Department for Transport (DfT) are investing nearly half a million pounds in the development of technology to tackle the issue of people carrying concealed blades in public places.

Six UK companies have been awarded a share of more than £460,000 to fast-track technologies that aim to detect people carrying knives in crowded places.

The initiative is part of the Serious Violence Strategy, where the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) were tasked by the Home Office with finding new ways to detect concealed steel-bladed knives.

The technologies would support policing in streets, railway stations and at major events, where it can be challenging to distinguish concealed blades from items such as keys.

A Home Office competition run by DSTL through DASA, which also had input from academia, identified six proposals. These were submitted by Security Screening Technologies, Iconal Technology, Loughborough University, Xenint, Thales UK, Advanced Nano Tech and Scientific Ltd, each of which will receive funding to carry out their proof of concepts over the next six months.

The Home Office wants technology that is “safe, easy to operate, unobtrusive and suitable for indoor and outdoor use”, with work supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.

Following the submission of the findings in the summer, the Home Office will be looking into deployment possibilities for the products that perform according to expectations.

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