BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Sunday, 9 November, 2003, 11:03 GMT
Weapon scanner 'ready by new year'
Sir John Stevens
Sir John wants to use all available technology to tackle gun crime
Britain's top police officer has said that a mobile scanner which can detect guns and knives carried under clothing, will be in use by the new year.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir John Stevens said the technology being developed by scientists for Scotland Yard, "represents a quantum leap in terms of how we tackle this type of crime".

The scheme was initiated by Met Commissioner Sir John earlier this year as he announced a crack down on gun crime.

Figures show that shooting incidents across England and Wales rose by 35% from 17,589 in 2000-2001 to 22,314 last year.

We will have the proper safeguards in place to make sure it is not misused
Sir John Stevens
Speaking on BBC One's Breakfast with Frost, Sir John said: "We're trying to make use of all the technology that's around.

"It's bringing together the techniques used in anti-terrorism also linking it to technology used to search people at airports."

He added: "We hope to be using the device by Christmas or in the New Year."

Asked if it was inspired by the James Bond movies, he said: "No, it is a work up of the techniques used in anti-terrorism."

Before the scanner takes to the streets the police may find they have to convince civil liberties groups concerned that the scanner - which is said to reveal intimate body details - is not an infringement of privacy.

"We will have the proper safeguards in place to make sure it is not misused," Sir John said.

ID cards

During the interview, he also threw his weight behind the introduction of compulsory identity cards, describing them as "absolutely essential" in the war against terrorism.

Sir John said police and security services were working on the assumption that an attack was "inevitable" and identity cards carrying biometric features such as fingerprints and eye retina patterns should be introduced as soon as possible.

The Queen's Speech later this month is expected to include a Bill to introduce a voluntary ID card scheme but legislation on a compulsory system is thought to be several years away.

"It is absolutely essential in the modern world, the dangerous world we live in, that we have proper means of identification," he said.

"If we have got a means of identifying people with reasonable certainty - which this is - then that is what we should be doing."

Sir John Stevens, Met Police Commissioner
"We must make sure there are safeguards in relation to how we use it"

Police develop weapon scanner
08 Nov 03  |  London

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific