Britain’s London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) will be issued hundreds of mobile-phone-sized biometric fingerprint scanners to help identify anyone suspected of committing an offence.
A total of 350 devices dubbed “MobileID” will be issued to police across 12 boroughs in London in the next year, following lengthy trials by the UK’s National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).
West Midlands, north west of London, also deployed 70 handheld “MobileID” devices earlier this month.
The MPS said the devices would not store fingerprint data, but would accelerate the identification of suspects.
MobileID devices will cross-reference suspects' fingerprints with records held in the country’s IDENT1 database, currently run by US defence contractor Northrop Grumman.
Every person arrested for a recordable offence in England, Scotland and Wales has fingerprints stored in the database. It had over 8 million individuals 'ten-prints' in 2010.
"Mobile Identification is a technological step forward that helps police officers identify people quickly,” MPS Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said.
"Evidence has shown that a full identification arrest can tie-up both the subject and the police officer for several hours."
The mobile fingerprint scanners were part of the MPS Commissioner’s commitment to “making better use of technology to fight crime”.
That commitment last week caused outrage following the MPS’s adoption of mobile device data extraction units from forensics firm Radio Tactics.
Privacy watchdog Privacy International said pushing forensics processes from the laboratory to the street was a possible breach of human rights law because it could be used to extract data before an arrest was made.