Cops get permission to mobile fingerprint on the beat

The UK police force has a new tool in apprehending villains, though it has sparked concerns over civil liberties.

The new finger print scanning Mobile Identification device, developed by the National Policing Improvement Agency, will allow coppers to check a potential culprit’s identity without having to drag them down to the local station.

It’s hoped that the system will mean less hours spent by the police working out identities, as well as catching more crooks in general.

The fingerprints are checked against a national fingerprint database IDENT1 for verification, though no records are stored on the system, it is claimed.

The roll out to police services in the UK comes after field trials with 28 police forces this year, with feedback leading to a smaller device.

The trials indicated that there was an average of at least 30 minutes per case, offering possibilities for identification of unconscious members of the public.

The police claim it will instill  “greater public confidence”, though there are concerns over the use of such devices.

Big Brother Watch director Daniel Hamilton believes that there should be considerable caution before the devices are actually implemented.

“There are privacy and security concerns with this,” he told TechEye.”The police should absolutely not be using this for random finger print checks.”

“It is a worrying development if this is used by the police force for arbitrarily stopping people for identification – this would be a gross invasion of privacy,” Hamilton continues.

“It is one thing if it is used when police have a genuine belief that someone is guilty of a crime, but if it is used out of curiosity as to someone’s record that is unacceptable.”

He also raised concerns about the security of the system, which encrypts the data and sends it wirelessly, with fears heightened over recent breach of the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

“It is massively important that such a system is made as secure as possible so that information cannot be lost or stolen,” Hamilton added.

Groups which engage in protest may also be concerned, such as UK Uncut, which saw demonstrators arrested in a branch of Fortnum & Masons for being in Fortnum & Masons. The charges have been dropped. 

TechEye spoke briefly to UK Uncut, which echoed the worry that this could impact on protests.

An anonymous, separate protestor, not affiliated with UK Uncut, told highlighted concerns over the potential implications for finger scanning devices during rallies. “My worry is that, judging from user-made footage which shows police acting in an inappropriate manner, that it will be misused on protests,” we are told.

“The “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” mentality doesn’t apply because peaceful protestors have been targeted using suspect methods in the past.”