Securing Crowded Places

The challenge

Due to the developing global terrorist threat, as demonstrated in Manchester and London, preventing mass casualty attacks is a priority. The Home Office and other government departments understand the need to work more closely with industry to improve the detection capabilities and security of crowded places in the UK.

The aim of this trial was to increase understanding and awareness of how innovative technologies and operational concepts can be combined to reduce the risk of attacks and without inconveniencing the public or impeding business.

The challenge was to screen large numbers of people quickly, cost-effectively and proportionately whilst retaining the confidence that no-one entering a crowded space represents a security threat.

While innovative technologies are becoming more available, their adoption has been limited. This is partly due to a lack of understanding of what benefits these technologies offer and how they can be used in real world applications.

Consequently, the limited take-up of new approaches and technologies is often inhibiting, delaying or completely preventing the exploitation of new capabilities that may succeed in mitigating security threats.


Solutions implemented

Following a successful initial Innovation Call, JSaRC, partnered with CPNI, Fenley Martel and Iconal, co-ordinated a series of trials showcasing high footfall screening technologies at various crowded places across the UK.

The focus of the trials was to provide an insight into how imaginative and proportional approaches can manage risks related to detecting threat items in crowds. The trials explored how this could be achieved without the delays often associated with security processes.



In total, 5 sites and 6 technology providers volunteered to participate in trials.

The chosen sites represented typical crowded places and all sought to combine a high level of security assurance with minimum interference for visitors and existing security procedures. Each site was individually informed as to how to develop the optimal concepts of their operation; this approach combined people, processes and technology.

The technology providers sought to understand how their equipment worked best in the field.

The trials directed product design and development in a totally unique way, leading one technology provider to comment that the product development lessons learned in a 6 week trial was equivalent to a year of market research.

Through this trial, the combined team was able to show an alternative to airport-style security and provide an insight into the developments in security technology to a previously unused audience.

For organisations whose solutions were used throughout the trials, it was the first time that some had seen their systems used in test for true high footfall screening, sometimes despite already having many tens of systems in the field. They estimated that the knowledge gained had accelerated the time to market of their latest version by 18 months (with a £1-2M potential payback).



The trials proved to be a success and strongly indicated that a small lightweight programme can deliver useful and worthwhile trials. They have given manufacturers valuable feedback and exposure, and provided site operators with useful insight. Additionally, CPNI is using the learning from the trials to inform guidance development.

Exposure was of great importance to the manufacturers. The trials provided an opportunity to raise their profile and build relationships with potential customers. The trials enabled the identification of new areas where existing equipment can be adapted. There is now a greater understanding of end user requirements through realistic operational data, which feeds into product development.

For venues, the trials provided insight into the capabilities and limitations of technology. This lead to improved confidence in the robustness of the technology and its fitness for service. The trials showed that it is possible for venues to improve customer safety seamlessly, unobtrusively and affordably. This in turn provided reassurance that high footfall screening is feasible. The opportunity to be able to communicate requirements to developers was also critical.

The interest being shown by major attractions, shopping centres and arenas is now far greater, which will no doubt support the growth of the security sector.


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