Mobile fingerprint scanners launched

SUFFOLK Police is today launching its mobile handheld fingerprint scanners to help identify possible offenders. The Lantern kits electronically check a fingerprint against the national database that stores all fingerprints from people arrested for recordable offences.

SUFFOLK Police is today launching its mobile handheld fingerprint scanners to help identify possible offenders.

The Lantern kits electronically check a fingerprint against the national database that stores all fingerprints from people arrested for recordable offences. If the fingerprint is recognised the device will confirm the name and details of the person, including relevant crime reference data.

In November 2006 a National Police Improvement Agency pilot began with 100 of the Lantern devices being deployed to ten forces. In March 2008 an additional 100 devices were sent out to a further ten forces and the pilot has now been extended again until 2010, with Suffolk Police being another force to acquire the kits.

The idea is the device is to establish and speed up identification. Previously, if someone was giving false details or they were unable to verify who they were, it may have taken a while to identify them. If someone's identity couldn't be established, they would have to be detained and returned to a police station to have their fingerprints taken.


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It can be used to catch disqualified drivers, detect people wanted on warrant, identify unconscious and deceased people and even assist with identity theft.

These devices can take a print anywhere and complete a check on that print in a few minutes. Once the print is taken and verified it is wiped from the system.

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Pc Stephen Fisher, from the Automated Number Plate Recognition Intercept Team, which has been using the devices, said: “The Lantern devices can quickly establish someone's identity, which allows an officer to make more informed decisions. Having this technology means that fewer criminals can evade justice but also that there is a significant reduction in the need to arrest or detain people for identification purposes. It saves time for both the officer and the member of public and it allows our officers to stay on the frontline for longer.”

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