UK police units adopt mobile fingerprint scanners

UK police units adopt mobile fingerprint scanners

Two Welsh police units, South Wales Police and Gwent Police, have rolled out mobile fingerprint technology to use on the streets, South Wales Police announced on its website.

Police units will be equipped with fingerprint readers to look for matches with fingerprints already in police databases and reveal suspect identity on the spot in 60 seconds. The mobile biometric solution is called INK Biometrics (Identity Not Known), and the device uses a Crossmatch (now HID Global) fingerprint sensor, software developed by Met staff and an Android smartphone.

The police hope to catch offenders faster, and reduce time usually wasted on taking suspects to the police station and with capturing fingerprints.

Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert explained operations will be carried out “in an open, honest and transparent way.” By joining forces to deploy biometric technology, the police forces aim to prevent crime, offer more support for victims and deliver a better police service, he added.

According to Deputy Chief Constable Jonathan Edwards of Gwent Police, the pilot will start with ten devices that will be used in “core parts of operational policing” to deal with suspects associated with modern day slavery, organized crime or knife crimes.

The technology is already used by the UK Metropolitan Police that has so far registered significant economic savings, reads the announcement.

“It is important to make best use of technology, to keep the public safe while working within the law and protecting civil liberties,” said South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael. “Everything a Police Officer does, as part of their role, must be proportionate, legitimate, and ethical. These devices take a traditional method of policing and speed up the identification process, resulting in less time transporting a suspect to custody, less distress and inconvenience for any suspect and increasing the time police officers are available to the public.”

The pilot will run for three months, and it will then be evaluated according to and reviewed in accordance with police governance structures.

“Investing in new ways of working and providing the latest technology to our officers is a priority for the Digital Services Division, which is a collaborative unit across both South Wales Police and Gwent Police,” said Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis, South Wales Police. “INK devices are part of a range of tools open to officers to confirm a suspect’s identity. Once all traditional forms of identifying a suspect have been exhausted an officer, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, will be able to use the device to cross check against police databases.”

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