A Guide to Walkthrough Metal Detectors UK

Walkthrough metal detectors have become a common sight in numerous public spaces and high-security areas, playing a vital role in ensuring safety by detecting concealed metallic objects. This article delves into the intricacies of walkthrough metal detectors, exploring their functionality, applications, and the standard procedures associated with their use.

Understanding Walkthrough Metal Detectors

Walkthrough metal detectors, also known as archway metal detectors and knife arches, are security devices employed to detect metallic objects on individuals passing through them. These devices utilise electromagnetic technology to identify the presence of potentially threatening objects, such as guns or bladed weapons, enhancing security measures and safeguarding public spaces.

How do Walkthrough Metal Detectors Work?

Walkthrough metal detectors operate based on the principles of electromagnetic induction. As a person walks through the archway, the detector emits a low-frequency electromagnetic field. When the field encounters a metallic object, it generates disturbances, altering the electromagnetic pattern. The detector’s sensors detect these disruptions and trigger an alarm, alerting security personnel to the presence of a potential threat.


Not All Walkthrough Metal Detectors Are Equal

While they operate based on similar principles of electromagnetic induction to detect metallic objects, there can be variations in their design, features, and capabilities. Different manufacturers and models may offer distinct functionalities and specifications.

Sensitivity Levels: Metal detectors can have adjustable sensitivity settings, allowing security personnel to customize the device to detect specific sizes or types of metallic objects. Higher sensitivity levels may be necessary in certain environments, such as high-security areas, where even small metal items need to be detected. Which sensitivity level is right for you, will depend on your search profile. Some brands like RISK and Garrett offer adjustable sensitivity by zone for further targeting.

Multi-Zone Detection: Certain models feature multiple detection zones within the archway. These zones divide the body into sections, providing more precise location identification of metallic objects. Multi-zone detection enables security personnel to pinpoint the exact area where a detected object is located, enhancing the effectiveness of further inspections. Almost all newer metal detectors will have this with the number of zones ranging anywhere from 12 to 33. The utility of dozens of detection zones is debateable however but the Garrett P6500i and the RISK W2 offer the most at 33 zones.

Size and Portability: Walkthrough metal detectors can vary in size and portability. Some models are designed for permanent installation in fixed locations, while others are more portable and can be easily transported and set up as needed. Portable models are commonly used for temporary events or situations where flexibility is required. Many with have a modular design such as the RISK P1 Portable Knife Arch and the Gatescan-P which mean they can be broken down into its components, transported and then reassembled.

Enhanced Features: Depending on the specific model, walkthrough metal detectors may offer additional features such as LCD displays for visual alerts, audio notifications, traffic counters to monitor the flow of individuals, battery backup systems for uninterrupted operation during power outages, and network connectivity for remote monitoring and data management.


Standards and Legal Requirements

In the UK, there are no specific laws that deal with the installation and use of walkthrough metal detectors. There are however several standards and best practices that can be considered to apply to them. The standards for walkthrough metal detectors are primarily defined by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). These organizations provide guidance and recommendations for the deployment and operation of security screening equipment, including walkthrough metal detectors. While compliance with these standards is not mandatory, they are widely regarded as best practices within the industry. Here are the key standards and guidelines in the UK:

NPCC Knife Screening Standards: The NPCC has developed specific standards for knife screening in public places. These guidelines outline the recommended measures for the deployment of walkthrough metal detectors to detect bladed weapons, with a focus on locations such as transport hubs, entertainment venues, and public events. The standards address aspects like detector sensitivity, operational procedures, staff training, and response protocols.

CPNI Security Screening Best Practice: The CPNI provides comprehensive guidance on security screening best practices, including the use of walkthrough metal detectors. Their publications cover a wide range of topics related to security screening, such as equipment selection, operational considerations, staff training, and integration with broader security measures. The CPNI guidelines aim to help organizations effectively manage security risks and enhance protective measures.

British Standard BS 7858: While not specific to walkthrough metal detectors, BS 7858 is a widely recognized standard in the UK for personnel security screening. It provides requirements for background checks, vetting, and screening processes for individuals employed in security-sensitive roles. Compliance with BS 7858 ensures that personnel operating walkthrough metal detectors undergo appropriate checks and training.

Aviation Security Requirements: The UK Department for Transport (DfT) sets specific standards and regulations for aviation security, including the use of walkthrough metal detectors at airports. These requirements, outlined in the Aviation Security Programme, cover various aspects of security screening, including the technical specifications for equipment, procedures for screening passengers and luggage, and training requirements for security staff.


Where are Walkthrough Metal Detectors commonly used?

Walkthrough metal detectors find wide-ranging applications in diverse environments where security screening is necessary. Some common areas where these devices are deployed include airports, government buildings, educational institutions, entertainment venues, correctional facilities and public events.



Standard Procedures for Walkthrough Metal Detector Usage

To ensure efficient screening and maintain a secure environment, certain standard procedures are followed when deploying walkthrough metal detectors. These procedures typically include:

Proper Placement: Walkthrough metal detectors are strategically positioned at entry or exit points, ensuring all individuals pass through them. The placement is designed to provide comprehensive coverage while maintaining smooth pedestrian flow.

Staff Training: Personnel responsible for operating the metal detectors receive comprehensive training to effectively operate the equipment, interpret alarm signals, and handle potential security incidents.

Clear Signage and Communication: Visible signage informs individuals of the mandatory screening process, and clear instructions are provided to ensure compliance. Verbal communication by security personnel helps individuals understand the procedure and their cooperation in the process.

Non-Intrusive Screening: Walkthrough metal detectors offer a non-invasive screening method. Individuals are required to walk through the archway, removing items such as keys, mobile phones, and large metal accessories to minimize false alarms.

Response to Alarms: If a metal detector detects the presence of a metallic object, security personnel respond promptly to the alarm. Depending on the situation and established protocols, additional screening measures may be implemented, such as handheld metal detectors or manual searches.

Privacy and Respect: Throughout the screening process, privacy and respect for individuals are prioritized. Sensitivity to cultural considerations and adherence to gender-specific search protocols are crucial aspects of maintaining dignity and creating a comfortable environment.

Walkthrough metal detectors have become integral components of modern security systems, effectively enhancing safety in various public spaces. With their advanced technology and ability to detect concealed metallic objects, these devices contribute significantly to the prevention of potential threats. Through adherence to standard procedures and the diligent efforts of trained security personnel, walkthrough metal detectors play a pivotal role in safeguarding public spaces and creating a secure environment for all.