12/02/2018 12:11 GMT | Updated 12/02/2018 12:31 GMT

Police Can Identify You In Seconds Using Handheld Fingerprint Scanner

Officers can now access all the UK's fingerprint databases on their smartphones.

West Yorkshire Police are to trial a new technology that allows police officers to identify a person in seconds using a mobile fingerprint scanner.

In the past identifying a suspect would require a trip to the nearest police station, wasting precious time. Now by using the mobile fingerprint scanner combined with a new app, police officers will have access to the UK’s two main fingerprint databases.

PA Wire/PA Images

As an early example of how the technology is already being used West Yorkshire Police cited an incident where armed police were able to apprehend a suspect after a short vehicle chase.

Upon giving what they suspected were false details the officers were able to use the scanner to positively identify him as being a disqualified driver. 

While the app is available to all police officers they will still need a portable fingerprint scanner as smartphones cannot produce the resolution needed to make an accurate match.

Some 250 portable scanners will be distributed out among West Yorkshire Police force with a further 20 police forces expected to adopt the technology by the end of the year.

Despite costing £300, these new mobiles scanners actually cost a fraction of the limited equipment that police officers currently have access to with the Home Office claiming that the move will result in considerable cost savings across the board.

When a person has their finger scanned by the system it will search through the UK’s two fingerprint databases: IDENT1 and IABS.

PA Wire/PA Images

IDENT1 is the police forces main identity database and contains fingerprints of anyone who has committed a serious crime, been suspected of committing a serious crime (for up to five years).

The IABS database contains fingerprints from non-UK citizens who have visited the country.

These are then merged into a single, searchable database via a smartphone app.

Now if you’re worried about privacy, the Home Office says that once a match has been made, the fingerprint is then immediately deleted from the device so they’re never directly stored on a device.