Scanners to be used at all rail stations

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The Independent Online

Security scanners are to be used at railway stations across the country in an attempt to improve safety.

The Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling, said trials in London of metal detectors to detect weapons such as knives had been "extremely successful". He told the BBC's Sunday AM programme that the technology would be employed at stations in other cities including Manchester, Leeds, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Cardiff.

"It will be across the country," he said. "It won't be there all the time. Obviously local police have to use their judgement as to when they deploy officers on the scanning equipment."

The trial at Tube and train stations in London, known as Operation Shield, has been running for two months. British Transport Police officers with stop-and-search powers and sniffer dogs use mobile airport-style scanners to check passengers.

Since it began, almost 10,000 people have been scanned, 100 have been arrested and 68 knives seized.

The Conservative homeland security spokesman, Patrick Mercer, welcomed the move, but said detecting potential bombers should be a top priority.

"We welcome any attempt to lessen crime on our transport system, but the fact remains that 53 people were killed in the London bombings last year and we currently have no equipment of any sort anywhere in England that can detect explosives," he said.

"There has been one brief trial, on one line, and there are further trials planned, but these are the sort of measures that should have been started in September 2001, not almost six years later."