Speaker: David Wilkinson
British police use several different “less lethal” weapons. Have you ever wondered how they were chosen? Or what tests were done to look at their safety and effectiveness?
This lecture covers the work of several years in identifying and evaluating less lethal alternatives to firearms for use by the British law enforcement community. It begins by looking at why we need such devices and explains the underlying theory and requirements of less lethal weapons. It looks at some of the more outlandish equipment that is available before going on to cover how such weapons are prioritised and scientifically evaluated. These priority weapons systems are then looked at in more detail and their merits and disadvantages are discussed. Finally, there is an in-depth look at TASERs and the full scientific process from beginning to end is followed - from the early basic accuracy tests to the full, multi-million pound human body modelling and medical evaluation.
About the speaker
David graduated in 2001 from Newcastle University with a degree in Physics with Medical Applications. He immediately started work for the then Police Scientific Development Branch of the Home Office, where he worked on several less-lethal weaponry projects. In 2003 he became the project manager for electrical incapacitation devices, more specifically TASERs, and authored the two major British reports on their effectiveness. He also liaised with a team at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down and edited the report into medical testing and safety of the devices.
After a brief spell working in the Volume Crime unit, he then became a project manager in Counter Drugs Technologies in 2005, leading several pieces of work. The most major was a joint drugs and counter-terrorism project called DILAXS. Working with University College London and St Bartholomew's Hospital a prototype was created that used low-angle X-ray scatter techniques to rapidly search for drugs and other substances of interest in parcels.
In 2007 he moved on to become the Midlands Regional Officer for the Institute of Physics. In July 2011 he became a Visiting Fellow in Science and Technology at Nottingham Trent University and in September's edition of Physics World he wrote the lead feature article "Licence to Stun: The Physics of Less-Lethal Weapons" based upon this lecture.