UK Metropolitan Police develop own mobile fingerprint solution
The Metropolitan Police Service has developed its own mobile fingerprint device to save police time while holding down the cost to the taxpayer, making it the first British police service to do so. The INK (Identity Not Known) Biometrics device scans suspect fingerprints and returns any match to police databases within 60 seconds, according to an announcement.
The device uses the same capacitive thin-film transistor (TFT) fingerprint sensor found in the recently released NOMAD 30 Pocket Reader from Crossmatch. It also includes software developed by Met staff and an Android smartphone. The device securely communicates with the Biometric Services Gateway (BSG) developed by the Home Office, and can also be used to check the Police National Computer for outstanding warrants. The lower cost of the kit compared to devices currently used by the Met means it can deploy 600 devices, six times more than are currently available, to front-line officers over the next 6 months.
“I have always been clear in my ambition to make the best possible use of technology to fight crime. The speed of analysis of information that this device will offer, will drive effectiveness and efficiency and allow officers to spend more time in our communities and fighting crime,” said Met Commissioner Cressida Dick. “This new technology was developed from the ground up with the full involvement of our officers and as we move forward we need more people like them, to join us with their tech savvy, innovative thinking. I hope this shows potential officer recruits that policing is fully embracing the digital age and that they can be part of an exciting future.”
The devices have been built and tested by the Digital Policing division of the Met and the Transformation Directorate, and can be recharged in a police vehicle.
Increasing access to the technology in the field will reduce the number of suspects who need to be taken to police stations for identity checks, according to the announcement, freeing up custody space for offenders. The device also protects suspect privacy by deleting fingerprints from the device automatically when the officer using it logs off. The Met estimates that INK will save £200,000 in support annually.
“Mobile identification technology helps officers to do their jobs efficiently and effectively. For example, if police stop a driver for a traffic violation but the driver has no documents on him and the car is registered to another person officers may not be happy that the name given is correct. INK can allow them to confirm the identity to allow the service of a summons, rather than arrest them and take them to a police station where they then confirm their identity. Also, if the person is wanted for other offences, this device will allow us to establish this at the point they are stopped,” said Superintendent Adrian Hutchinson, who leads the project. “I am very proud we have become the first British police force to develop our own device. With the money we are saving, we are now able to provide more devices to more officers than ever before, saving them the time and inconvenience of either waiting for a biometric device to arrive or taking the suspect into custody.”