A UK police force has started using new mobile fingerprinting technology that allows officers to identify people in less than a minute.
An app on an officer’s phone, combined with a handheld scanner, will allow police to check fingerprints against both criminal and immigration records by connecting to two live databases through the new Biometric Services Gateway.
West Yorkshire Police worked with the Home Office to trial the new Motorola Solutions system and will now begin an initial roll-out of 250 scanners to officers in the coming weeks.
The Home Office said 20 other police forces across the country are expected to roll out the system by the end of 2018.
Nick Hurd, minister for policing and the fire service, said the technology could allow the average officer to spend an extra hour a day on the frontline.
“By cutting out unnecessary trips to and from the police station, mobile technology is really helping to save valuable time and allowing officers to do what they do best – cutting crime and keeping us safe,” he said.
As well as identifying a person of interest who may be withholding their name, the technology enables officers to rapidly identify someone experiencing a medical emergency and make contact with their next of kin.
Early examples of the new system in action include a firearms unit, who detained a driver after a short pursuit and were able to identify him as a disqualified driver, despite him giving false details. He was issued with a summons for three offences and his vehicle seized.
“The introduction of these fingerprint devices is a significant step forward for West Yorkshire Police and marks another milestone in our technological ambitions,” said Andy Battle, assistant chief constable at West Yorkshire Police.
“As we have already experienced in the trial, the combination of these digital solutions bring tangible benefits to policing our communities.
“It means we can submit fingerprints of suspects from the street to a live time national database and receive results in less than a minute.
“We have seen first-hand, for instance, how this rapid identification has enabled speedy and accurate medical treatment based on the records available. Its use also allows relatives to attend hospital to see their loved ones when time is of the essence.”