UK police to trial mobile fingerprint devices

February 12, 2018 - 

The UK Home Office and West Yorkshire Police are working on a trial of 250 mobile fingerprint scanners, which will allow police to identify suspects in the field in less than a minute, the Independent reports.

The small sensor device connects to smartphones currently used by officers, who can then use an app to submit a collected fingerprint to the IDENT1 and IABS databases via the Biometric Services Gateway. The Home Office expects to deliver the devices to 20 police forces for use by the end of 2018.

“We can get photographs back of the individual, we can get a full PNC (Police National Computer) record of the individual as well which gives us a really thorough identification,” West Yorkshire Police Chief Inspector Ian Williams told the Independent.

The device is provided through a partnership between Motorola Solutions subsidiary Airwave Solutions and Integrated Biometrics, a representative of the latter company told Biometric Update. It costs less than £300, which the Home Office says makes it 10 percent of the cost of current mobile fingerprint systems, and does not record or store fingerprints to add them to a database. Police also pointed out benefits in delivering accurate medical treatment, and reaching the relatives of people being transported to hospitals.

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd suggested that the efficiency improvements enabled by the device could allow police officers to spend an extra hour each day “on the frontline.”

As previously reported, the Home Office’s biometric practices have drawn criticism, but its biometric strategy, which has been delayed for six years, is expected to finally be published in June.

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About Chris Burt

Chris Burt is a writer and contributor to Biometric Update. He has also written nonfiction about information technology, dramatic arts, sports culture, and fantasy basketball, as well as fiction about a doomed astronaut. He lives in Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter @AFakeChrisBurt."