Police Scotland trials mobile fingerprint scanners

Police officers in Aberdeen have become the first in Scotland to pilot mobile fingerprint scanners that can help officers on the beat identify people in seconds. The scanners are linked to a national fingerprint database and instantly alert police if the scanned prints belong to a convicted criminal.

Nov 14, 2013
By Paul Jacques
Graeme Biggar

Police officers in Aberdeen have become the first in Scotland to pilot mobile fingerprint scanners that can help officers on the beat identify people in seconds. The scanners are linked to a national fingerprint database and instantly alert police if the scanned prints belong to a convicted criminal.

As well as providing officers with quick and early identification, the device can pinpoint where there is a real cause for concern for a person, for example, if they are unconscious from heavy intoxication due to alcohol or drug use and there is a pressing need in relation to their welfare.

Mobile fingerprint scanners have already been trialled in England and are currently used by more than 25 forces.

West Midlands Police was able to identify more than 2,200 people, including some who were wanted in connection with criminal investigations, during an initial six-month trial.

Police Scotland’s Chief Inspector Nick Topping, Area Commander North, said: “The mobile fingerprint scanners will be of great benefit to officers across the ‘Granite City’ as they have the real potential to free-up police time by providing quick and early identification of an individual, allowing officers more time on the street, working within their local communities.

“It can be a considerable impact on our time to have to convey people to a police station in order to confirm their identification where there may be dubiety. The mobile scanners can quickly confirm this and ultimately, free-up officers to be on the streets protecting the public.

“It will also ensure that members of the public who we need to speak to in relation to our inquiries are not unnecessarily delayed in going about their own business.”

Chief Insp Topping said the scanners would also provide opportunities for police to “detect the small minority who may attempt to pervert the course of justice by providing false details”.

“There are numerous examples where these devices have been used very effectively in ensuring officers have been able to quickly conclude their inquiries and be available to provide further service within the local communities,” he added.

“This is another example of Police Scotland making use of new modern technology and the devices could essentially free-up hundreds of hours of officers’ time so that they can provide extra visibility and presence in their local communities where they are needed most.”

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