Police forces across the UK are rolling out mobile fingerprint scanners to speed up the identification of criminal suspects.
The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) said that an initial trial of the MobileID Lantern devices by 28 forces had proved highly successful by reducing the time officers spend in the station.
Twenty-five forces are rolling out the devices at present, including the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, Thames Valley Police and the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and more are expected to get onboard over time.
A spokesperson for the NPIA told V3 that the devices are supplied by Cogent as part of a three-year contract worth £5.7m, and that 250 units will be rolled out initially followed by a further 250 in two weeks' time.
Each device costs £1,900, which includes the airtime costs, service and warranty, although the NPIA did not clarify whether this cost is included in the contract.
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 merely checks existing records.
The spokesperson also confirmed that there are no plans for officers to move from the use of BlackBerry devices to other mobile handsets, suggesting that RIM stills hold sway in high-end secure markets such as law enforcement.
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