The Metropolitan Police Service has become the first British police force to develop its own mobile fingerprint device.
Named INK Biometrics (Identity Not Known), it scans suspects’ fingerprints and according to the force will confirm their identity within 60 seconds if they are known to police databases.
The in-house system has been built and tested by the Met’s Digital Policing division and Transformation Directorate.
Along with other forces the Met has been using similar technology since 2012, but it said the new kit is cheaper which allows six times as many devices to be deployed. It plans to roll out 600 devices to frontline officers across London in the next six months.
It said this will reduce the need for suspects to be taken to police stations to have their identity checked, which should enable faster apprehension of offenders, keep officers on the streets for longer and free up limited custody space for offenders.
The force also said it will save an estimated £200,000 in support costs per year.
Software and search
The portable device comprises software produced by Met staff, used on an Android smartphone handset and paired with a Crossmatch fingerprint reader. It securely communicates with the Home Office developed Biometric Services Gateway (BSG), which searches the Criminal Records Office and immigration enforcement databases.
The devices are rechargeable in a police vehicle.
If a suspect has a criminal record or is known to immigration enforcement their identity can be confirmed at the roadside and an officer, with relevant access levels, can also use the device to check the Police National Computer to establish if they are currently wanted for any outstanding offences.
The Met said that fingerprints are only taken where there is legal cause under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act. All fingerprints taken on the device are deleted automatically once the officer logs off the device.
Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, said: “I have always been clear in my ambition to make the best possible use of technology to fight crime. The speed of analysis of information that this device will offer, will drive effectiveness and efficiency and allow officers to spend more time in our communities and fighting crime.
“This new technology was developed from the ground up with the full involvement of our officers and as we move forward we need more people like them, to join us with their tech savvy, innovative thinking. I hope this shows potential officer recruits that policing is fully embracing the digital age and that they can be part of an exciting future.”
Image from Met Police