Jan 27

Securing UK borders: the measurements making you safer

The increasing threat posed by terrorism is one of the major challenges facing UK border security [2015 UK Government National Security Risk Assessment].

When you or your luggage is screened as you pass through an airport, it will typically be done using an ion mobility spectrometer (IMS). This is well-established technology: in 2004 alone there were over 10,000 explosive detectors based on IMS used at security checkpoints around the world. IMS has low detection limits, is small, robust and inexpensive and gives real-time results, enabling luggage and passengers to continue to move quickly through security.

case study_securing UK bordersHowever, to ensure current and future risks are identified as early as possible, further technologies are required to complement the current screening techniques. One such
potential option is transportable mass spectrometry. Recent advances – instrumentation is smaller, cheaper and more efficient and extensive laboratory sample preparation is no longer required – have overcome previous barriers to industry adoption. It has become appropriate to evaluate the measurement performance of these technologies to further improve the detection of explosives.

LGC scientists have investigated the measurement challenges associated with transportable mass spectrometry for use in the field for counter-terrorism activities. This knowledge has been shared with national security stakeholders to support the implementation of improved policy and procedures to ensure continued high accuracy screening.

The work done by LGC to improve measurement accuracy of current equipment and ensure appropriate adoption of novel technologies will improve the detection of explosives and chemical weapons at UK borders and will help safeguard the UK from further terrorist attacks. This will protect lives, property and infrastructure, and avoid disruption to businesses and travel, while also improving confidence in public safety.


Read out latest case study to find out more.


LGC, the UK National Measurement Laboratory and Designated Institute for chemical and bio-measurement

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