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.
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.
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.