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Stratford Station in east London is at the centre of a ground-breaking experiment aimed at making passengers safer.

A five-day £40,000 trial on heat-scanning technology is under way at the transport hub run by British Transport Police, Transport for London and the Home Office.

The technology, developed by Oxfordshire-based Thruvision, can spot weapons such as guns, knives and explosives at a distance of 30ft by outlining objects that block a person’s heat signature.

Policing Minister Kit Malthouse said: “No-one should feel they can walk the streets with a knife and expect to get away with it.

“We are pulling out all the stops in a battle against knife crime in London and across the country.”

The trial will investigate how officers can find weapons without using stop and search, a controversial tactic that has shown mixed results and can lead to community tensions.

What it doesn’t show

The technology allows police officers to see the size, shape and location of any concealed item but, the Homes Office said, the results do not show intimate body part and it is impossible to tell an individual’s gender, age or ethnicity. It is already in use on the Los Angeles Metro.

Stratford station is a major hub for east London where overground, Tube and DLR services converge. It has an average of 110,000 passengers a day.

Siwan Hayward, director of compliance and policing at Transport for London 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.”

Meanwhile, new data published by Ofsted revealed that seven Further Education colleges in London use knife detection wands and six use knife arches. Survey findings also showed that five used stop and search and seven use anonymous reporting procedures.

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