New Fingerprint Technology To Help Police

Police officers across the country will now be able to check an individual’s identity on the beat within two minutes, as the National Policing improvement Agency (NPIA) rolls out new mobile fingerprinting devices to forces across the country.

The new Mobile Identification (MobileID) service allows police officers to scan a person’s fingerprints while on the beat and check them against information from the national fingerprint database, IDENT1, for verification. Fingerprints taken on MobileID
devices are not retained after a search.   

This will enable faster identification of individuals, saving public and police officer time and also helping increase the number of offenders who are identified and brought to justice.

The devices have been deployed to more than half the forces in England and Wales this year, including Hampshire Constabulary , helping to cut the number of trips officers make back to the police station and giving them more time to spend on the frontline.

For example, rather than arresting and detaining an individual to establish their identity, which can take up to several hours, it will now take a couple of minutes.

The roll-out follows successful field trials, which involved 28 police forces using Lantern devices to test how mobile fingerprinting performs in an operational environment. Feedback from the field trials helped the NPIA manage the development of a smaller, hand-held national solution for use by all forces.

Benefits reported from officers who used mobile identification devices as part of the national Lantern field trials included:

-an average saving of at least 30 minutes per case where used

-identification of unconscious or fatal victims at a crime or accident scene improved levels of public confidence.

Tom McArthur, NPIA director of operations, said:

“Identification is crucial to police investigations and giving officers the ability to do this on the spot within minutes is giving them more time to spend working in their communities, helping to fight crime, bring more offenders to justice and better protect the public.”

DCC Peter Goodman, ACPO lead on MobileID, said:

 “There is no doubt that this step forward in the use of technology will help police officers on the frontline. It will identify offenders, cut down on wasted time in custody suites, enhance officer safety and it will be a powerful tool in the fight against criminals. One of the most powerful weapons criminals have is their ability to hide their true identity. With the advent of MobileID, this will become much more difficult, making our communities that much safer.”

The MobileID project forms part of the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS), a reform programme for the police service that is using IT to improve efficiency. This will release savings and deliver operational improvements across policing and into the wider criminal justice system.

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