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Birmingham gun shot sensors installed

gunshot_policeA network of sensors which can help pinpoint exactly where a gun is fired from has been rolled out in Birmingham aimed at reducing the high gun crime and later tracing the criminals. West Midlands Police say the "Shotspotter" technology, widely used in the US, will help reduce gun crime and could potentially save lives after it is triggered by loud sounds, connect to a mapping system to show where the noise has come from.

Sensors used in the US to detect gunshots being discharged have been installed in areas of Birmingham with a high number of firearms incidents.

It is the first time the Shotspotter Gunshot Location System - which can detect a gunshot to within 25m (82ft) - has been deployed in the UK.

West Midlands Police said the sensors had been placed high up on buildings in north-west areas of the city.

The £150,000 system records an audio clip and sends police a GPS location.

A police officer trained to listen to the clips then makes a judgement on what they have heard before deploying officers.

The system, funded by the Home Office through Birmingham Safer Partnerships, has an 85% accuracy rate, Ch Supt Chris McKeogh said.

It can tell if multiple shots were fired, or if they were fired from a stationary or moving location, the number of weapons used and in which order they were fired, according to the manufacturers.

Gun shot sensorsThe system has been introduced in more than 50 US cities since 1995.

"The sound waves a bullet produces have a particular signature, if you like, and that should be recognisable to our force control room officers that have been trained up to listen," Mr McKeogh said.

"Shots, or a shot, being fired outside have the best chance (of being detected).

"Inside, or with a silencer, the ability is not so good, understandably."

The system, called Project Safe and Sound, will be active from Thursday. It is being used in the West and Central local policing unit, which covers areas including Handsworth and Aston.

Figures show the unit has the highest rate of gun crime in the force area.

A police report said this justified the use of the system, which it said was not targeting people in black and Asian communities.

Overall, the number of firearm incidents recorded in Birmingham has gone down since 2007/8.

The sensors have been placed on buildings owned by the council, some schools and private businesses.

Police will not elaborate on exactly where they are or what they look like.

The project will be reviewed after six months and again after a year.

Information taken from bbc.co.uk


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