New technologies designed to detect possible terrorist threats are to be tested at major UK train stations in the new year.
Railway stations pose particular problems regarding screening of passengers as the sheer volume of travellers would make individual airport-style checks completely impractical. Since the recent terrorist attacks many member states have increased CCTV surveillance at train and metro stations. Now, new technologies are emerging designed to cope with the security of transport systems and these will be put to the test in London’s Paddington station from January 2006.
There will be walk-through scanners which use radiation waves to check for concealed weapons and are reported to be able to see through clothing. A new type of CCTV camera, dubbed ‘intelligence vision system’, will also be installed. These devices will be able to spot ‘suspicious activity’ such as a bag left unattended, individuals staying in one place for long periods or ‘unusual’ arm or hand gestures. Previous small trials of such devices have produced an unuseable number of false alarms but the technology is now said to be much improved. Random bag checks and searches will also be introduced.
Similar new technologies are being tried out in other major cities. A version of the CCTV camera is being tried in New York and trials are also being carried out in the US of detector systems for chemical and biological attacks.
The announcement of the new measures was made by the UK Transport Secretary Alistair Darling, speaking at a world conference on anti-terrorism strategies in public transport held in London on 13-15 November 2005.