Remote data access will transform ports policing

Counter-terrorism officers at Birmingham Airport are currently trialling the portable POLARIS device (Police Access to Remote Information Systems), which provides a quick link to the Police National Computer (PNC).

Nov 13, 2008
By Paul Jacques

Counter-terrorism officers at Birmingham Airport are currently trialling the portable POLARIS device (Police Access to Remote Information Systems), which provides a quick link to the Police National Computer (PNC).

The small hand-held device allows PNC checks to be carried out by simply scanning travellers’ passports or ID documents.

Previously, officers on duty in the arrivals and departures halls would have been required to relay information back to their station, then wait for the results of the search. Now they can carry out the job in the heart of the passenger areas thanks to the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) technology, which runs on the O2 network.

“This will be far more efficient for the officers and reduce delays for many of travellers we stop,” said Detective Inspector Mark Owen, head of ports for the West Midlands counter-terrorism unit.

“There are obvious benefits for us working in CT but there are also big advantages for policing nationally if we can connect to the PNC much quicker.

“It’s an excellent tool to have at our disposal and in time we hope to be able to link it into other police systems.”

POLARIS will undergo a 12-month trial, funded by the National Coordinator for Ports Policing and ACPO TAM (Terrorism and Allied Matters).

If the test is successful, West Midlands Police will have to commit to an annual maintenance package. However, the device – which costs £7,000 to buy – will be provided to the force free of charge.

•A new website has been launched aimed at enhancing security around Heathrow Airport.
www.airportcommunity.org has been specifically set up by the Met`s Aviation Security unit as a communications tool for partners within the airline industry, airport staff, the travelling community and local residents.

The new Met initiative will deliver police and community intelligence in the form of up-to-date news bulletins, appeals for those wanted for airport criminality or are subject to behaviour orders, probation or ASBOs and notices regarding suspicious behaviour or vehicles. It is hoped that the website will also enable The Met’s Aviation Security unit to engage with the airport’s staff and 87 million annual visitors.

The website, which is supported by BAA, will also serve Heathrow’s local community by providing specific contact information for dedicated safer neighbourhood teams. Members of the public will have the opportunity to contact local officers directly and in confidence via the site, to report any concerns or pass on information.

Detective Superintendent Rupert Hollis of the Met`s Aviation Security Unit said:

“Our ultimate aim is to reach the wider community in a modern accessible way to encourage the sharing of information and dialogue between our partners and communities.

“It is hoped that the website will further enhance our already active community engagement, and will present a unique opportunity to utilise potentially valuable information from people working at or travelling through Heathrow; people who are the airport`s eyes and ears. If the initiative is a success, it is hoped that other UK airports will follow suit, widening the network for which intelligence can be shared and acted upon.”

Related News

Select Vacancies

Copyright © 2023 Police Professional