Government issues call for innovations in ‘less lethal’ technology

Written by Sam Trendall on 21 August 2020 in News

Ideas sought for safer ways to limit harm wrought by violent offenders

Credit: PA

The government is seeking tech firms and academics to propose new and innovative ways to limit the harm wrought by armed and violent offenders – while using “the minimal necessary force from distance”.

The Advancing Less Lethal Weapons funding programme aims to identify technologies that could be used by law enforcement from a distance of up to 50 metres. Those that can work at a range of 70 metres or more may also be considered in the context of military use. 

The main goal is to find non-fatal ways of safely disabling someone posing a physical threat. The scheme is also interested in exploring products that could “mark a subject in order to identify them at a later stage”.

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“[The programme] seeks proposals for innovative technologies from industry and academia that can temporarily stop a violent or armed subject to prevent the escalation of conflict or destruction of property,” the government said. “The technologies would allow the use of less lethal means as an alternative to firearms in some scenarios, giving police more versatile and effective options to defuse dangerous situations to keep the public safe without having to resort to lethal force.”

Initial funding of up £500,000 will be awarded to firms and consortia via a competition that is split into two tracks, for technologies considered to be of low or medium maturity, respectively. Money can be spent on testing and developing the technology in question and winning bidders may be given an additional tranche of up to £500,000 to support a secondary stage. 

The scheme is being run by the Defence and Security Accelerator, a unit of the Ministry of Defence dedicated to furthering innovation.

“The scope of this competition, run on behalf of the Home Office, includes looking at technologies that have not been deployed operationally before and investigating combinations of technologies that may provide better solutions,” it said.

The competition is open to bids until midday on 15 October. Interested parties can find out more and ask questions by scheduling a 20-minute slot at one of two teleconferences being hosted by DASA next month.


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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology


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