Saturday, March 6, 2010

Police forces to be equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners

Every police force in England and Wales will soon start using mobile fingerprint scanners to check suspects' identity in the street.

Security officers on patrol will be able to use the devices, which are about the size of a mobile phone, to check the fingerprints against national records.

Up to 3,000 devices will be distributed to each of the 43 forces across England and Wales after senior officers claimed they will save hours of police time and speed up inquiries.

The National Policing Improvement Agency has signed a three-year contract worth £9million with U.S. firm Cogent System to provide the devices.

Deputy Chief Constable Peter Goodman, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: 'This new technology will allow police to more easily confirm the identity of suspects on the street without having to arrest them and return to the police station to confirm who they are - as we currently have to do.

'It also means cost savings equivalent to releasing some 360 officers back to front-line policing each year.'

Chief Constable Peter Neyroud, from The National Policing Improvement Agency, added: 'Identification is crucial to police investigations and giving officers the ability to do this on the spot within minutes is giving them more time to spend working in their communities, helping to fight crime, bringing more offenders to justice and better protecting the public.'

The decision comes after a successful trials of 330 similar devices in 2006, which showed officers saved at least 30 minutes every time they used the machine.

However, some are concerned the new devices could encourage police to conduct random searches.

Campaign group Liberty said last year it had 'very real concerns' about the possibility of the introduction of such devices.

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