London police develop biometrics device to confirm a suspect's identity in 60 seconds

  • The new piece of kit is expected to save an estimated £200,000 in support costs per year.
  • During the next six months, 600 devices will be sent to frontline officers in London.
Fingerprint and circuit board, illustration.
KTSDESIGN | Science Photo Library | Getty Images
Fingerprint and circuit board, illustration.

London's Metropolitan Police has developed a mobile fingerprinting device that it says will save time and money.

The mobile biometric device is called INK (Identity Not Known) Biometrics, the police force said in a statement Tuesday.

It can scan a suspect's fingerprints and, providing he or she is on a police database, reveal their identity within 60 seconds.

The device uses software that is placed on an Android smartphone and then paired with a Crossmatch fingerprint reader. Using a secure connection, it can communicate with the Biometric Services Gateway, which has been developed by the Home Office. This then searches databases from the Criminal Records Office and immigration enforcement.

If a suspect has a criminal record or is known to immigration enforcement, their identity can be confirmed at the roadside. Officers with relevant clearance are also able to use the device to see if a suspect is wanted for any outstanding offences. Fingerprints recorded on the device are automatically deleted when an officer logs off, the Met said.

"I have always been clear in my ambition to make the best possible use of technology to fight crime," Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said. "The speed of analysis of information that this device will offer will drive effectiveness and efficiency and allow officers to spend more time in our communities and fighting crime."

The Met said that similar technology had been used by its officers, and those from other forces, since 2012. The new device is cheaper, meaning that six times as many can be deployed. During the next six months, 600 devices will be sent to frontline officers in London. INK, the Met added, was expected to save an estimated £200,000 ($255,000) in support costs per year.

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