Birmingham has become the first city in the UK to trial a system to combat gun crime, allowing police officers to pinpoint the exact location of gunmen when they open fire.
The sophisticated “bullet beater” can alert police to the scene of street shootings within 12 seconds, and is already being used in 50 cities across America.
Its sensors can tell where and from what angle a shot was fired, the number of weapons used, the calibre and even if a gunman was moving at speed to with 25 metres.
It is hoped the system will give police an early warning of a shooting and allow officers to get the crime scene within minutes.
Police said the network of strategically based sensors had been installed over a couple of square miles of the city based on gun crime hotspots and firearms officers have carried out a live firing exercise to calibrate them. The system went live this week.
Chief Supt Chris McKeogh, commander of Birmingham West and Central police, said evidence from America showed where the system had been installed there had been a reduction in shootings of between 20 and 70 per cent.
“This technology will enable us to respond faster and more effectively to firearms incidents, therefore minimising the harm to local communities and maximising the opportunity to seize illegal firearms , catch offenders and potentially save lives,” he added.
The system has cost the Safer Birmingham Partnership £150,000 to purchase. The £21,000 annual running costs will be met by West Midlands Police.
The Home Office Scientific Branch is keep a close eye on the pilot to assess how well it works and whether it should be deployed elsewhere in the country.
Kirsty Hobson, director of GunShotLocating, the company behind the system, said: “We feel confident our well-proven technology will make a significant contribution in the fight to reduce gun crime, improve police response times and save lives.”