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Metropolitan Police given 350 mobile fingerprint scanners in Olympics policing boost

23 May 2012

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has announced it is to begin using 350 mobile fingerprint scanners across numerous boroughs of the capital, in time for the Olympics, which can help identify citizens in under two minutes.

The MobileID devices will be rolled out across locations including Lambeth, Southwark, Westminster, Lewisham, Brent, Croydon, Islington, Camden and Haringey and the Olympic boroughs of Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

The MPS has been trailing the technology ahead of the rollout, with the Notting Hill Carnival and Royal Wedding both used as major test events.

The assistant commissioner of the MPS, Mark Rowley, said the rollout would prove a significant boost to officers on the frontline and improve public security.

"Evidence has shown that a full identification arrest can tie-up both the subject and the police officer for several hours. Even a traditional identity check conducted on the street can take an extended period of time to complete," he said.

"MobileID is effective particularly in revealing serious and violent offenders who will do everything they can to prevent the police from knowing their identities. This technology means there is increased officer time spent on patrol, helping to make communities safer."

The MPS said that while the timing of the roll out of the devices was not directly related to the Olympics it would be a useful tool that officers could take advantage of during the event and beyond.

"MobileID is just one tool that can be used by officers if they are dealing with a suspected offender and identity is an issue," a spokesperson said.

Mobile ID device in useThe use of the devices was first confirmed by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) last July, with 25 forces across the country receiving the device as part of a three-year contract worth £5.7m, with the devices supplied by technology specialist Cogent (pictured left).

At the time the NPIA said each device would cost £1,900, which includes the airtime costs, service and warranty. The NPIA confirmed to V3 on Wednesday that there are now around 1,000 of the devices in use across the UK.

The system works by scanning the fingerprint of a suspect and then using a Bluetooth connection to send this encrypted data to an officer's BlackBerry device which then cross-references it with the IDENT1 national fingerprint database.

A suspect with information in the database is then easily identifiable, but the NPIA explained that no data captured by the device is stored in the system, and that it only checks existing records.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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