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Government launches anti-crime tech competition

Government seeks technologies that allow police officers to use less lethal means to stop violent or armed offenders

The UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) has launched a competition for innovative technologies that can be used by police as an alternative to firearms when stopping armed offenders.

The competition, which is open to industry and academia, has two different tracks, one for low-maturity technologies at proof-of-concept stage and one for medium-maturity technologies at prototype stage.

The government is offering an initial £500,000 for phase one, with an additional £500,000 available at a later phase.

The aim is for the technologies to allow police officers more effective options for dealing with dangerous situations, to be used as an alternative to firearms.

According to the competition document, the government is looking for technologies that have not been deployed before, and need to meet the criteria for less lethal weapon systems, which include being able to stop a violent or armed offender accurately from distances between 5m and 50m, although systems with distances between 0m and 70m will also be considered.

The system must also be effective against a moving target, be able to be carried by police officers on routine patrol and be able to operate in typical UK weather conditions.

The competition document adds: “The ability for the police to be able to initiate and/or maintain communication and visual contact with the subject is important and should form part of the technical solution or concept of operation; this could be via normal voice communication at closer ranges.

“Additionally, it would be desirable for the possibility to use the system in any Crown dependencies or in support of international deployments.

“The ability to mark a subject in order to ‘identify’ them at a later time would also be desirable for a system, especially for use in public order situations where the perpetrator of a crime may not be easy to apprehend at the time of the offence.”

In February 2020, Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick called on the government to introduce an “enabling legislative framework” to outline how police should or should not use emerging technologies.

Read more about police technology

  • Met Police commissioner has called for legislative framework to govern police use of new technologies, while defending the decision to use live facial recognition technology operationally without it.
  • National policing strategy sets a number of technological ambitions for the next decade, placing a particular emphasis on collaborative working and building common standards or frameworks.
  • The Metropolitan Police has launched a new tender for the provision of IT infrastructure services with the aim of promoting more agility, flexibility and savings.

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