Police Trail - mobile electronic fingerprinting - Bapco Journal

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Police Trail - mobile electronic fingerprinting

11 February, 2007

At the end of last month a hand-held, electronic mobile fingerprinting trail was launched. Barry Taylor, Deputy Chief Constable at Dyfed-Powys Police and Senior Responsible Owner for Lantern formally opened the Bedfordshire Police pilot in Luton. The BAPCO Journal reports…

Lantern, managed by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), will enable the capture of fingerprint details suitable for identifying individuals in an operational environment for the first time. It allows real-time searching of the national fingerprint collection on the National Automated Fingerprint System (IDENT1).

Lantern’s overarching purpose is to establish a person’s identity using their fingerprints, away from the police station, thus increasing the time officers spend on the frontline. Annual savings of over £2.2 million through time saved in pursuing false identities have been forecast.

Bedfordshire Police, one of ten forces to start fingerprint identity checks, is the first Lantern live trial force to rollout. The mobile fingerprint device piloting is being carried out by the force’s Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) team.

Live mobile identification was initially developed to support this area of police work. ANPR technology allows vehicle number-plates to be cross-checked against databases to identify vehicles that are of interest to the police.

How it works

The Lantern device works by electronically scanning the subject’s index fingers, which are sent using encrypted wireless transmissions to the central fingerprint database. A real-time search against the national fingerprint collection of 6.5 million prints is then performed. Any possible matches are identified and returned to an officer in a target time of less than five minutes.

There are potentially many operational situations where mobile identity checks will be of great operational benefits to the police in the future. The main purpose of Lantern will be to provide:

Efficient capture of fingerprint details suitable for identifying individuals in an operational environment

Real-time searching of the national fingerprint collection on National Automated Fingerprint System (IDENT1)

Real-time searching of information held on the Police National Computer (PNC)

Delivery of an integrated response remote from police premises in a timely fashion.

Tony McNulty, Minister for Police and Security, has endorsed the launch and in a press statement said, “This trial represents an important step forward in our commitment to ensuring we have an effective and efficient police service fully equipped for the challenges of modern policing. The new technology will speed up the time it takes for Police to identify individuals at the roadside, enabling them to spend more time on the frontline and reducing any inconvenience for innocent members of the public. It will also act as a visible deterrent, reducing fear of crime and making criminals less mobile.”

DCC Barry Taylor, added, “Lantern is a powerful tool in that it allows an officer to make better informed decisions about how to proceed at the point of interaction with an unknown person they suspect of committing an offence.”

Chief Superintendent Nicky Dahl at Bedfordshire Police, whose responsibility includes the ANPR team, commented, “We’re delighted to be given the chance to pilot this new equipment – if you can quickly establish someone’s identity it means that officers are safer, fewer criminals can evade justice, innocent members of the public are less inconvenienced and police can spend more time out on patrol without having to make frequent trips back in to the main police stations.”

Chris Wheeler, Head of Fingerprint Identification at PITO, concluded, “This pilot will help us explore the accuracy and capacity issues around the device in a live scenario as part of work towards a national solution. The pilot device was developed in conjunction with Northamptonshire Police and our supplier – Northrop Grumman.”

The forces involved

The ten police forces taking part in pilot are Bedfordshire Police, British Transport Police, Essex Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Lancashire Constabulary, Metropolitan Police Service, North Wales Police, Northamptonshire Police, West Midlands Police and West Yorkshire Police.

The pilot is scheduled for completion in December 2007 and an analysis of the results will ratify a national rollout.

Northrop Grumman and Sagem, will be supplying the handheld devices and search capability being used in the pilot, whilst Cable & Wireless will provide encryption services and secure connectivity. In advance of pilot deployment, the project team collected sample fingerprints on the device to enable Northrop Grumman to conduct accuracy tests. This will ensure that the accuracy threshold set on the device will be of an acceptable level in the operational environment. The objective is to minimise that chances of failing to identify individuals whose prints are on the database and of false positive identifications.

Plans for the future phases of the project are being made. It is hoped that an open market will be established to provide a choice of Lantern devices and vendors to roll-out Lantern nationally.

Additionally, the options to provide real time searching of PNC and other databases such as Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND), Facial Images National Database (FIND) and Intelligence Management, Prioritisation, Analysis, Co-ordination and Tasking (IMPACT) are being investigated.

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