UK police are turning to innovative technology to help in the fight against hooliganism.
A Portable Passport Reader is being used at Luton, Gatwick and Heathrow airports, and at Dover and Waterloo international terminals to try and identify known football hooligans and stop them from leaving the country.
Some 3,500 known football hooligans were issued with banning orders before the World Cup which required them to hand in their passports, but some 200 offenders failed to do so.
Since the World Cup began, 160,000 passports have been scanned nationwide. Luton Airport has used the device to scan over 37,000 passports and over 60 arrests have been made at Luton alone.
The passport reader, developed by mobile data experts APD Communications, is no bigger than a standard-sized briefcase and comprises a notebook computer, modem, document reader, remote battery and mains charger.
It is fairly lightweight and can therefore be used by customs officials or police officers travelling on international trains or ferries to check the passports of those on board for banning orders or other ‘flags’.
"We've managed to control those hooligans that we knew about, however as we saw from the troubles last week there is a lot of joe publics out there who will behave violently," said Tim Royle, of Bedfordshire Police Special Branch.
The Passport Reader could be further developed by police to be less cumbersome.
"At the moment it's very heavy," said Royle. "The utopian view is that they could be hand sized, and could be used by officers walking around. It's size is its biggest hinderance at the moment."
Police use technology to identify football hooligans
By Tom on Jul 3, 2006 9:20AM