UK police tech research facility launched

Crime and policing minister Chris Philp has opened a new research facility at the UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

According to Dstl, the facility is intended to “accommodate specialist operational and laboratory capabilities funded by the Home Office, to support frontline users such as UK policing and Border Force”. It brings together “law enforcement, policing and counter-terrorism interests alongside the UK’s military research”.

The facility has evolved via the integration of former Home Office Centre for Applied Science and Technology staff and staff at Dstl Porton Down. The key capabilities housed there will apparently include ground and water-based search support, video and audio surveillance, and body-worn video.

Also housed there will be “standoff contraband and threat-detection systems including X-ray and CT scanning”, and “innovation spaces to allow for consideration of future science and technology challenges for law enforcement and frontline services”.

Discussing the opening of the facility, Dstl chief executive Paul Hollinshead said: “There are many synergies between the challenges faced by police and security and also defence, such as protective clothing, concealment, surveillance and communication.

“This new facility will enable us to harness the expertise from across Dstl more productively than was possible before. We are grateful that the minister could see the progress being made in vital areas of national security and hear from the specialists involved.”

Philp said: “The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory is a world-class research facility that plays a crucial role in developing the cutting-edge technology that protects this country from current and emerging threats.

“Science and innovation are vital to our law enforcement, policing and counter-terrorism operations, and it was a privilege to open a new operational and research facility at Dstl.”

During the visit, the minister saw presentations in relation to the prevention of knife crime, the use of virtual reality for training and more. Philp also met staff “involved in operational support and saw first-hand the specialist equipment available to assist regional forces”.