UK police forces have started to use a £10m national intelligence database to share information on violent criminals, paedophiles and other sex offenders.
Developed by the Police IT Organisation (PITO) with the help of outside consultants, the new violent and sex offenders register (Visor) is a central system designed to replace local and unconnected databases and paper files used by individual police forces.
The web-based system can be used to perform both local and national searches on convicted offenders in the community, as part of investigations into new crimes.
The searches can be based on personal characteristics and features of convicted criminals, including tattoos and scars.
The database currently contains details of 50,000 individuals, covering all types of sex offences and those jailed for more than 12 months for violence.
Visor, which is based on Web Logic Java 2EE, will be extended to the Probation Service in 2006.