|Letter: Richard Tracey Calls For Gunfire Alarms|
Concerns about the possibility of a live-shooter incident taking place in the UK, especially London, have never been higher. While it is evident that the police and security services are working hard to prevent such an attack from taking place, we need to do more to protect soft targets like hospitals, museums, local government buildings, train stations and shopping malls.
One of the major issues during a live shooting situation is the time is takes to call the police. In a volatile and chaotic situation, people first have to make life or death decisions to protect themselves, before being in a position to use their phone, delaying response times.
Gunfire detectors would automatically alert authorities to a live incident, removing the need to make emergency calls in the first place. The kit looks like smoke alarms and uses heat and sound to detect gunfire, automatically alert police, and enable armed officers to track and follow gunmen within a building.
With the increased concern of Paris and Mumbai style attacks in the UK, the Met should pilot these unobtrusive detectors in 50 undisclosed and high-footfall sites across London and the UK. The estimated one-off cost of £3.3m, for the entire pilot, would amount to less than 1 per cent of the Home Office’s annual £3.5bn anti-terror budget. Cutting the response time of armed officers and providing them with accurate information about the location of an armed individual, will ensure incidents are dealt with as quickly as possible - and ultimately save lives.