UK: Police get new mobile fingerprint scanners linked to immigration database

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Police in the UK are being equipped with new devices that allow them to check fingerprints against the Immigration and Nationality Database whilst in the street.

According to an article in Police Oracle, Hampshire Constabulary's 'Roads Policing Unit Proactive Team' has been issued with "five devices similar to the Lantern system." [1] The Lantern system was introduced in a pilot project by the now-defunct National Policing Improvement Agency and allowed officers to check fingerprints against the National Fingerprint Database. [2] The new devices are known as Rapid ID and "are only deployed in cases where officers suspect that an immigration offence has taken place," according to Police Oracle.

As well as Hampshire Constabulary, the devices are also being trialled by the Central Motorway Patrol Group, "a full-regionalised policing service for the motorways of the West Midlands, West Mercia and Staffordshire force areas," [3] and Greater Manchester Police.

"Fingerprints are first checked against the National Fingerprint Database. If Rapid ID is used, an immigration number is provided and officers have to check it with the relevant authorities," says Police Oracle. It quotes Sergeant Simon Goss from Hampshire Police as saying that "being able to access the Immigration Database was a step forward," although "ideally it would be easier if you access both databases from one device."

Further reading

  • Europe's police and immigration "mobile identification" enthusiasts prepare to regroup during Irish Presidency of the EU, Statewatch News Online, January 2013
  • Your Rights and Mobile Fingerprinting, Network for Police Monitoring, 28 January 2013

    [1] Cliff Caswell, Officers given mobile access to immigration fingerprint database, 24 July 2013
    [2] The MIDAS touch, Public Service Review, 6 August 2010
    [3] Central Motorway Police Group

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