The soon-to-be-axed National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) has rolled out mobile fingerprinting devices enabling police officers to check an individual's identity on the beat.
Fingerprint identification company 3Mcogent was awarded the £5.7m MobileID framework agreement last year by the body responsible for overseeing IT projects in the police forces.
Each custom-built device costs around £1,900, which includes three years of airtime. So far, 250 handsets have been deployed to 25 forces, another 250 are due to be rolled out in the next month, and more are planned over the year.
The project follows a recent announcement by the Home Secretary Teresa May to create a police-led IT company to replace the NPIA, May said she hoped the new company will be established by next spring. But concerns have been raised as to who will foot the bill for projects such as this and the police national database once the agency is pulled.
MobileID was funded by the NPIA, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and individual forces. The business case for the project was approved by the Cabinet Office last year.
Time-saving device for safer communities
Its roll-out follows trials across 28 police forces using devices to test how mobile fingerprinting performs in an operational environment, benefits reported from included a saving of 30 minutes per case and the ability to identify unconscious victims at crime scenes.
Tom McArthur, director of operations at the NPIA, said: "Identification is crucial to police investigations, and giving officers the ability to do this on-the-spot within minutes is giving them more time to spend working in their communities, helping to fight crime, bringing more offenders to justice and better protecting the public."
Peter Goodman, ACPO lead on MobileID, said: "One of the most powerful weapons criminals have is their ability to hide their true identity. With the advent of MobileID, this will become much more difficult, making our communities safer."