14 Dec 09. Private security companies have started “pushing the boundaries” of frontline law enforcement and are becoming involved in highly charged areas such as the policing of protests, the Financial Times has learnt. G4S, the FTSE 100 security group, has provided mobile custody cells and detention officers at two recent environmental demonstrations. It has also begun to supply full teams of investigators on complex criminal cases, another area that will prove contentious with some chief constables. The G4S security group has provided mobile custody cells and detention officers at two recent environmental demonstrations. In an FT interview, John Shaw, who recently took charge of the G4S policing business, said: “We have a team of 30 of our guys in one force on a major investigation right now, practically doing all of the roles except that of the senior investigating officer.” Mr Shaw conceded that the push by the private sector into areas once deemed off-limits would be resisted by some officers and needed to be done in collaboration with forces. But he argued the squeeze on law enforcement budgets meant all police roles were “up for grabs” except those requiring powers of arrest. “The timing is right for an honest debate about what really constitutes front-line policing,” he said. G4S estimates it could quadruple its revenues from policing activities within the next few years, but such a rapid expansion would worry civil rights campaigners. Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said there were “considerable legal, constitutional and public confidence issues when what many of us see as core policing duties are farmed out to unaccountable private security firms”. The G4S comments come at a moment when Alistair Darling has promised to “ringfence” spending on front-line policing, even though the Home Office has asked for £545m of annual cost savings from chief constables within five years. (Source: FT.com)
Dec 09. Link Microtek, a specialist supplier of microwave components and systems, has introduced a new liquid identification system that could enable airport authorities to lift restrictions on passengers carrying bottles of liquid in their hand luggage. The new system, which is known as EMILI 1+, uses an innovative microwave sensing technique to instantly identify whether the contents of a bottle are completely harmless, inflammable, corrosive or explosive. Originally developed by German company Emisens (a spinout from the Jülich Research Centre), the system is now available worldwide through the company’s sales, service and R&D partner, Link Microtek. At the heart of the EMILI 1+ system is a multimode sensor emitting an evanescent microwave field that penetrates the bottle under test and enables the dielectric permittivity and ionic conductivity of the unknown liquid to be measured. From these parameters, the system identifies the type of liquid in the bottle and immediately displays the result on the screen. The whole process takes less than one second, which makes the EMILI 1+ particularly attractive for security checkpoints, where speed of operation is a vital consideration. The system works with plastic, glass and ceramic bottles, which are simply placed unopened on the machine. It is ideal for use as a standalone system or in conjunction with existing X-ray scanners, which generally have very limited capability for identifying liquids. The new technology has none of the health-and-safety concerns associated with X-ray equipment. EMILI 1+ was designed by Emisens managing director, Professor Norbert Klein, who moved from Jülich in October 2009 to join the Department of Materials at Imperial College, London as Professor of Electromagnetic Nanomaterials.