£4m boost to tackle knife crime

The Home Secretary has announced an additional £4 million investment to help tackle knife crime.

May 15, 2024
By Paul Jacques

This will include the development of knife detection technologies and new mobile live facial recognition (LFR) units for the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Home Secretary James Cleverly said new technologies are already “revolutionising” how the police fight crime.

The investment will see £3.5 million go into the research, development and evaluation of new technologies which can detect knives carried from a distance and hand-held or body-worn systems that can be operated by individual officers.

The Government also confirmed that the MPS will receive £547,863 to fund the refit and redeployment of four vans into new mobile LFR units to bolster efforts to address knife crime, which is rising in the capital.

This is part of wider funding which aims to tackle serious violence through hotspot policing, said the Home Office.

The investment comes during Sceptre, the national policing intensification week for knife crime led by National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and is just one of a package of measures introduced over the last year to tackle serious violence.

Mr Cleverly said: “Knife crime ruins lives and recent tragedies show there’s a lot more to be done to take these dangerous weapons off our streets.

“That’s why we’re taking a joint approach and announcing further measures to tackle these heinous crimes.

“No technology can replace the presence of officers on our streets, but as criminals develop new strategies towards crime, so must we.

“New technologies are already revolutionising how we fight crime and we are going even further to give police the solutions they need to keep us safe.”

LFR mobile units are used in busy areas to check individuals against a select list of persons who are wanted by the police or the courts. The effectiveness of these units is well proven. In December, deployments of live facial recognition in Croydon led to 15 arrests for offences including rape, robbery, fraud, grievous bodily harm and possession of Class A drugs.

The Home Office stressed that these units have “clear safeguards in place”, adding: “The use of LFR is governed by data protection, equality, and human rights laws. It can only be used for a policing purpose, where necessary, proportionate, and fair.

“Images taken by the tech are deleted instantly if they do not match the list of criminals held by police. All deployments are also targeted, intelligence-led, time-bound, and geographically limited.

“Before a deployment, the police will inform the public where they intend to use the technology and where they can obtain more information on its use.”

Commander Stephen Clayman, national knife crime lead at NPCC said: “Tackling knife crime requires a range of tactics working with our partner organisations and understanding where policing can best add value.

“We welcome today’s announcement of additional investment in knife detection technology which is one of the many tools we use to keep our communities safe.”

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