Merseyside Police pioneers high quality image capture for identification and verification

Merseyside Police is the first force to have live-tested the new Digital Image Booth, custody image capture system and is set to install eight booths into its custody centres. Adopting this proven technology will allow Merseyside to capture custody images that consistently meet national quality standards and improve identification and verification in all police applications.

Aug 9, 2007
By Damian Small
Social media footage of the disturbance.

Merseyside Police is the first force to have live-tested the new Digital Image Booth, custody image capture system and is set to install eight booths into its custody centres. Adopting this proven technology will allow Merseyside to capture custody images that consistently meet national quality standards and improve identification and verification in all police applications.

The Digital Image Booth (DIB) has been designed to capture facial images which meet the new Police Image Standards laid down by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA). The NPIA’s Facial Images National Database (FIND) will allow the police service in England and Wales to receive, store and retrieve images, which will benefit many areas including intelligence, forensic research, custody, warrants, witness albums and tactical operations. NPIA recently stated: “The key to the ultimate success of FIND is the submission of FIND compliant images by custody staff – linked to accurate descriptive information and PNC identification number/fingerprints.”

Merseyside Police became the first UK Force to trial DW Group’s Digital Image Booth at its Wirral Custody centre earlier this year. Following rigorous testing the pilot proved that the DIB and OmniPerception AFIT QA software present an efficient and cost-effective solution to meet FIND standards and improve modern custody management.

Simon Furnivall, project manager for the DIB Pilot, described how Merseyside put the DIB through stringent tests: “Over an eight-week period nearly 500 custody images were taken in the booth. To meet the minimum requirements for a FIND-standard image the measurements had to achieve 70 per cent success, but we decided to set the “pass” threshold at 90 per cent, so that each successful image would far exceed FIND requirements.

“Our results showed a first-time successful capture rate of 83 per cent, and 94 per cent success after 2 or less attempts.” Simon added that these statistics did not include the latest seating solution or on-screen guides, which were developed during the pilot: “We believe that these practical improvements will improve the success rate still further when we install the final DIB units into our custody centres.”

In its evaluation, Merseyside found that the DIB met five critical requirements: it captures high-quality FIND-compliant images; no additional work is required to integrate with current force systems; there is a simple traffic light system for success or failure of a captured image; there are minimal environmental requirements; and it is virtually unbreakable.

Overall, the system proved easy to use and virtually eliminated user error, which is often the main cause of poor custody images. “Ultimately the investment in this new Digital Image Booth will improve policing performance and give us the best return on investment,” said ACC Simon Byrne, who has already championed several new initiatives in custody operations and who gave the final approval for the eight DIB units to be installed in Merseyside.

Patrick Leigh, DIB production director from DW Group, said: “The Digital Image Booth is now a proven solution for consistent, high-quality image capture, rather than “creation”, in the custody suite and we’re confident that other forces will soon be taking advantage of the same benefits.”

Prices for the Digital Image Booth start at £4950.00 + Vat, which includes full installation, set-up, training and 12-month on-site warranty. See www.digitalimagebooth.com for information.

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