A police scanner reminscent of the hi-tech gadgets in films such as Robocop which can detect weapons hidden beneath a criminal’s clothing has been developed.
The lightweight handheld unit uses high frequency microwaves to see through clothes and pick up “reflections” of concealed guns or knives from a distance of several metres.
Intelligent software then interprets the images and only alerts officers to potential weapons – clearly distinguishing between everyday objects like keys and mobile phones.
It is hoped the scanner will reduce the number of attacks on officers who will no longer need to perform a risky stop and search to detect weapons.
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Officers will also be able to remain at a safe distance and call for back-up before confronting armed criminals.
The research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office Scientific Development Branch.
The Metropolitan Police Force is currently testing the scanner which is hoped to operational within two years.
Experts are keeping precise details of the unit secret for security reasons.
Stuart Ibbotson, Metropolitan Police head of engineering, said the results of early tests were “very encouraging”.