Ten police forces in England and Wales are carrying out trials of mobile fingerprint-checking technology to help keep officers out on patrol.
The Lantern project uses handheld biometric readers with secure GPRS links to the Ident1 national fingerprint database, allowing officers to establish at the roadside whether a suspect has given their real name and address.
It takes a couple of minutes to check for a match with one of the of 6.6 million fingerprints on Ident1, compared with the three-hour process of taking a suspect to the station for the same procedure.
?The system is a tool designed to save time and prevent officers from needing to come back to the station,? said inspector Steve Rawlings from Bedfordshire Police, which started a pilot last week.
?The police service has a potential 100,000 users so we want to look at the technical issues we need to overcome to deliver that,? said Rawlings.
Rick Naylor, president of the Superintendents? Association, says Lantern could even help cut crime.
?It will have a lot of benefits if we can be more efficient in arresting people and in eliminating suspects from enquiries,? he said. ?And if it leads to more crime detection it will have a preventative effect ? if people feel they are going to be identified they will be less likely to commit a crime.?
Lantern is managed by the Police IT Organisation and has been developed by supplier Northrop Grumman. The pilots will run until the end of next year.
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