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9th October 2019

Ground-breaking fingerprint technology deployed across two welsh police forces

BY: Nathan Spackman

South Wales Police & Gwent Police become the first welsh forces to use mobile fingerprint technology on the streets

Police have the powers to take fingerprints to confirm the identity of a suspect. This month, South Wales Police and Gwent Police will be piloting new technology which will enable officers to take and search a persons identity using new fingerprint readers without having to take them back to a police station

The mobile biometric device, named INK Biometrics (Identity Not Known), scans the  suspects fingerprints and will confirm their identity within 60 seconds if they are known to police databases. The introduction of this technology will see an improvement for the public as the mobile biometric readers will allow for faster apprehension of wanted offenders, will remove the need to take a suspect to a police station, reduce the time for the  person providing the fingerprints and enable officers to stay out on the streets.

This development is another tool for officers to use to confirm a suspects identity once all other lines of enquiry have failed.

South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, Alun Michael said:

“ This does not change the basics of working within the law to check a persons identity but it enables it to happen quickly”.

"Delivering new technology is an important part of how keeping  our communities safe and protecting the public

"It is important to make best use of technology, to keep the public safe while working within the law and protecting civil liberties.

"Everything a Police Officer does , as part of their role, must be proportionate , legitimate and ethical.

"These devices take a traditional method of policing and speed up the identification process, resulting in less time transporting a suspect to custody, less distress and inconvenience for any suspect and increasing the time police officers are available to the public”

Deputy Chief Constable Richard Lewis, South Wales Police said:

"The role of technology is a large part of how we keep our communities safe.

"Investing in new ways of working and providing the latest technology to our officers is a priority for the Digital Services Division, which is a collaborative unit across both South Wales Police and Gwent Police.

"INK devices are part of a range of tools open to officers to confirm a suspects identity. Once all traditional forms of identifying a suspect have been exhausted an officer, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, will be able to use the device to cross check against police databases"

T/Deputy Chief Constable Jonathan Edwards, Gwent Police said:

"Initially, ten devices will be deployed across both forces and given to core parts of operational policing.

"These devices will be extremely effective in dealing with suspects linked to Modern Day Slavery, Organised Crime or the knife crime initiative, Op Sceptre which is responding to a national increase in reported knife crime.

"Collaboration between our two forces is enabling new technology to be delivered quicker and more effectively, resulting in greater efficiencies being made to help operational policing respond to increased demand."

Already deployed throughout the Metropolitan Police, the devices have made considerable economic savings and enabled innovative steps to be taken to continue developing this technology.

Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner, Jeff Cuthbert said:

"It is important that our communities understand that our officers carry out their roles in an open, honest and transparent way.

"Confirming a persons identity is a cornerstone of policing, this technology builds on an officers training and provides them with an additional tool to help them carry out their role.

"Through working in partnership, we have been able to deliver new technology that helps prevent crime, support victims and improves service delivery for members of the public.

"This technology will enable our officers to intervene earlier and reduce the crimes that cause the most harm in our communities.

The pilot will be carried out over a 3 month basis and reviewed in line with the governance structures of both forces. 

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