Airport-style security greeted rail passengers in Bath today, 15 May, allowing officers to screen for weapons.

Avon and Somerset Police installed the temporary device as part of efforts to reduce the number of knives on our streets. It's also part of a crackdown on drugs gangs trying to expand their trade out of bigger cities.

London drug gangs often send customer orders out by train to provincial towns and cities. It's part of a system known as county lines, and Bath isn't immune. Police are well aware that people carrying those drugs are likely to be carrying knives.

Police officers were out in force at Bath Spa Station to deter criminals and reassure passengers. Credit: ITV West Country

Today's operation was a joint effort between Avon and Somerset Police, British Transport Police and Great Western Railway. It involved setting up a mobile metal detector known as a knife arch to see if any passengers were carrying weapons.

Police cannot force anyone to walk through the knife arch but what happens if they refuse to do so?

People cannot help how they react to things. It's called a flinch reaction, something police are trained to look for. We're also looking to their manner and their behaviour when they're speaking to us. After all, anyone can voluntarily refuse in a perfectly polite way but if someone's being evasive then that's going to start to make us question why at which point other police powers such as stop-search can come into play.

Det Insp Paul Stanley, British Transport Police
This British Transport Police poster aims to reassure passengers. Credit: ITV West Country

The metal detection arch was only at Bath Spa station for the day but officers say it could be brought back at any time to deter criminals.

The action also aimed to reassure people that officers are doing everything they can to tackle knife crime. As the British Transport Police poster says: "It's the people without knives we're looking out for. If you're asked to walk through a metal detection arch, we don't want you to feel under suspicion. We want you to feel safer".