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Bomb detectors 'too impractical'

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London Underground is likely to reject the use of passenger scanners designed to detect weapons or explosives as they are "not practical", a security chief for the capital's transport authority said.

The government had intended to run trials of scanning systems on the underground network, but they are unlikely to go ahead as the technology is believed to have a series of drawbacks.

Ministers were keen to develop the use of weapons scanners following the tube bombings in July last year. Trials of a millimeter wave scanner – which screens for traces of explosives and concealed weapons – and an X-ray machine were carried out on Heathrow Express platforms at Paddington station at the start of 2006. The Department for Transport is still evaluating the results of the testing.

London Underground, operational security manager Geoff Dunmore said the network would not be the right environment for the technology.

"Basically, what we know is that it's not practical," he told Government Computing News. "People use the tube for speed and are concerned with journey time. It would just be too time consuming. Secondly, there's just not enough space to put this kind of equipment in."

"Finally, there's also the risk that you actually create another target with people queuing up and congregating at the screening points."

Dunmore said London Underground had been talking to the Met and the British Transport Police to assess other ways to improve security. He said the use of hand held detectors along with dogs had proved a more effective solution.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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