Conservative mayoral candidate and current member of the London Assembly Shaun Bailey announced on May 21, that if elected, he would trial thermal cameras in hotspot areas with the highest levels of knife crime, including parts of Hackney, as a way of tackling the issue.
Bailey proposed to equip the Violence Reduction Unit with the scan and search technology in crime hotspots across various London boroughs such as Haringey, Enfield, Hackney, Waltham Forest, Southwark and Lambeth, where violence has been on the rise.
Bailey told Eastlondonlines: “In Hackney, the number of people being charged for carrying a knife has increased by over 11% in the past 12 months. The community has suffered enough.”
“I want to give the police every tool possible to help get the weapons off our streets,” he added.
The technology is estimated to cost about £800,000 and will likely come from Thermal Matrix, an American company that supplies heat-sensitive cameras that allow the user to detect concealed weapons to the United States military.
The mayoral candidate has said that he plans to fund his plans by “cutting the irresponsible waste at City Hall”.
Thermal Matrix produces cameras equipped with thermal imaging, which the City Hall’s Violence Reduction Unit can use to monitor crowded areas in neighbourhoods with high levels of violence as a more precise way of ensuring the safety of Londoners.
Robert McDaniel, the General Manager at Thermal Matrix, said: “We believe our software and hardware would give London’s Metropolitan Police Force the edge they need in their fight against violent crime.”
“No other system provides such advanced, accurate and reliable concealed object detection systems,” he added.
Shaun Bailey offered the use of Thermal Matrix cameras as an alternative to the current Mayor Sadiq Khan’s “stop and search” program, which allows police officers to search any citizen that they suspect may be carrying a concealed weapon. He believes that with this method, the Metropolitan Police would not be relying on guesswork.
Bailey said: “By using thermal imaging technology, I will adopt a scan and search approach, targeting criminals in high traffic areas. Not in a decade, not in a year, but right now.”
He became the third candidate to throw his hat in the ring for the 2020 London Mayoral Elections, along with current Mayor Sadiq Khan and Green Party co-leader Siân Berry.
Under Bailey’s proposed crime plan, he said that the new thermal cameras will be bolstered by the hiring of 2000 more police officers to assist in its implementation.
The Thermal Matrix cameras would also be trialled at various London events, such as Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, the New Year’s Eve firework show in Westminster and the Notting Hill Carnival, which takes place each August.
Bailey highlighted the urgency of battling the capital’s rise in criminal offences: “Tackling serious violent crime must be our city’s number one priority.”
There have been two YouGov/QMUL polls in recent months on the next London Mayoral contest.
55% on 03–06 Dec 2018
43% on 07–19 May 2019
28% on 03–06 Dec 2018
23% on 07–19 May 2019
Polling firm: YouGov
Samples: 1,020 and 1,015
Election date: 7 May 2020
— Robert Kimbell #TimeForThePeople (@RedHotSquirrel) 17 May 2019