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How to Use Hand Held Metal Detectors for People Scanning


Security metal detectors are now commonly used at checkpoints in airports, schools, court buildings, prisons and military establishments. Hand held metal detectors, also known as security wands, are often used in conjunction with walk-through metal detectors; the hand held device being used for focused screening when the walk-through detector alarm has been triggered.

How Do Hand Held Metal Detectors Work?

Metal detectors use electromagnetic fields to actively detect the presence of metallic objects. A hand held metal detector wand has two primary components, a transmitter coil that creates the electromagnetic field and a receiver coil that detects electromagnetism. An electromagnetic field is generated around the transmitter coil which extends to around 20cm from the security wand. When the wand is passed over a subjects body, if a metal object falls into the generated electromagnetic field a further electromagnetic field is induced around the hidden metal object. This new electromagnetic field is detected by the receiver coil which will trigger an alert for the operator.

garrett super scanner hand held metal detector
Garrett Super Scanner Hand Held Metal Detector

High quality hand held security metal detectors offer various alarm indicators including visual LEDs, selectable audible alarms and vibration. The best hand held metal detectors are self-calibrating, eliminating the need for regular sensitivity adjustment. They are light-weight, ergonomically designed and a standard 9v battery will provide around 80 hours of continuous operation.

People Scanning with Hand Held Metal Detectors

Hand held metal detectors are now highly affordable so they are being increasingly used at various establishments and check points to improve security. Night-club door staff are often required to scan patrons as they enter the premises and outdoor music events and sports stadia are also employing these devices to beef up their security. High quality hand held metal detectors will find concealed knives and weapons, foil wrapped drugs and other concealed metallic objects.

handheld metal detector scanning technique
Hand Held Metal Detector Scanning Technique

When using a hand held metal detector it’s important to understand that they are motion detectors, which means that they will not raise an alarm if held stationary. The operator must be moving the scanner over the metal object for it to be detected. It is the movement of the electromagnetic field that induces further electromagnetic fields around concealed metal objects. So if the device is stationary hidden metal objects will not cause further electromagnetic fields.

It is important to remember that screening people for weapons using a hand held metal detector requires no body contact. The operator doesn’t need to touch the subject in any way as the metal detector is passed over the outside of the subjects clothing, close to their body, but not touching them.

handheld metal detector scanning and walk through
Hand Held and Walk Through Security Metal Detectors

People Scanning Guidelines

Here are some guidelines for those responsible for security scanning of people using hand held metal detectors.

  1. Be courteous and polite at all times.
  2. Be aware that a subject may attempt to distract you if they are concealing something.
  3. Remember that security scanning is an important task.
  4. Always make certain the subject is aware that they are being scanned.
  5. Make certain that the subject is standing in an area where you can approach them from all sides.
  6. Scan the subjects front, focusing on the torso and legs. Pay thorough attention to pockets and the belt line.
  7. Scan the subject’s back, from the back of the head down to the heel of the one leg and then in reverse up the other leg, back up to the head, including the arms.
  8. Pay special attention to the belt line, ankles, pockets and underarm areas.
  9. When scanning the head, pay attention to elaborate of bulky hair styles or head gear.
  10. Never attempt to scan between the legs of either men or women.
  11. Never place the metal detector in front of a subject’s face.
  12. Always inspect any metal objects which may have triggered an alarm (such as belt buckles).
  13. If you get an alarm from a subject’s pocket always ask them to empty the contents of their pocket into a tray and then rescan the pocket. Visually and physically inspect everything emptied from their pockets.
  14. Remember that there is no need to come into contact with the subjects body. Simply move the scanner slowly over the surface of their clothing, close to them but not touching.

Best Hand Held Metal Detectors

We offer a selection of the very best hand held metal detectors available today. Widely used around the world by security personnel and others.

Random Selections

At many security checkpoints its required that every individual is subjected to security scanning. But in some situations only a random selection of people are chosen for scanning. A big challenge for operators in these situations is making genuinely random selections.

random search selector
Random Search Selector

When selecting people at random there is always the possibility of being accused of bias or prejudice. What’s needed in these situations is an independent tool which carries out the random selection process, thus avoiding potential accusations of bias.

Random search selectors, either mobile, battery operated devices or mains powered, are the answer. They can be easily configured to deliver a required percentage of selections.

Here at Insight Security we are always ready to help with your security needs. Call us on 01273 475500 for free help and advice.


This message was added on Thursday 7th November 2019


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