Metal Detectors Installed at British Railway Stations to Tackle Knife Crime

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 02: Police watch as a youth walks through a knife-arch security scanner at Vauxhall railway station on June 2, 2010 in London, England. Over the school half term holiday a range of enforcement and diversionary tactics are being used to keep young people safe in the …
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Police forces have installed ‘knife arches’ at railway stations in England and Wales to tackle violent knife crime.

London’s Metropolitan Police in partnership with the British Transport Police (BTP), Thames Valley Police, Merseyside Police, and Leicestershire Police are some of the forces involved in Operation Sceptre, which takes place twice a year.

The knife arches, set up at railway stations’ entrances and exits, use electromagnetic pulses to detect metal objects passing through them. The metal detectors are portable and can be moved around to different parts of the stations, to deter criminals carrying weapons with violent intent. Police may also stop and search travellers who are appearing to act suspiciously upon registering the presence of the knife arches, according to a Telegraph report.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures from July revealed that knife crime was at a record high, with 46,265 knife crimes recorded in the 12 months to March 2020. London saw a seven per cent rise in knife crime on the year before, with killings committed with a bladed object having increased by 28 per cent since 2018.

Operations in English and Welsh train stations also included bringing in drugs detection dogs and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to tackle drug dealing, with the Met linking narcotics “to a high proportion of the violence in London”.

Drugs crimes had increased sharply during the first lockdown, according to recent statistics from the ONS, rising 30 per cent on the same period last year. Antisocial behaviour and homicides, including those committed with a knife, also increased, whilst other crimes generally fell.

The Met saw a 43 per cent increase in drug offences between April and June; however, this was likely due to “proactive police activity in crime hotspots”, according to the Evening Standard report from late October.

Just on Wednesday, a man in his late teens was stabbed near Basildon station, with Essex Police describing his injuries as, while not life-threatening, potentially “life-changing”. The stabbing is just the second in less than a week after a 15-year-old was stabbed on Sunday night.

Last year, it was revealed that children and youths in high-knife-crime areas were being taught first aid to stab victims. Run by a charity, the scheme was introduced across 16 cities, including London. A study from 2019 found that the number of under-18s being treated for stab wounds had doubled in five years.

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