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Government tests safety of police radio

Study looks at short and long term health effects of digital Airwave technology

The police are testing the safety of a new digital radio communication system, Airwave, and the government is spending £5m on a project to look into its effects on the health of the officers using it.

Despite the fact that past studies have shown Airwave is safe to use, the Home Office says that this further research proves "the government's commitment to ensuring that equipment used by police staff has no adverse health effects".

Following past scares about the use of mobile phones and their effect on callers' brains, the study aims to ensure that the Airwave system carries no such risk. Imperial College London is carrying out two separate research projects covering the short- and long-term effects of using the system.

The first study will attempt to determine the more immediate health effects of Airwave signals on 150 officers, with participants' brain responses monitored by headsets. The second part of the investigation involves 100,000 police nationwide, and will monitor them over the next 15 years to see if there are more permanent links between their wellbeing and the use of Airwave.

The government is keen to show how safe Airwave is as it offers police a much improved communication method to help them fight crime. Among its benefits are the fact that it prevents criminals from scanning police frequencies and officers should no longer find themselves caught in radio blackspots where they're unable to call for backup.

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