London's Met develops mobile fingerprint device
21 August 2018 10:19 GMT

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) in London has developed its own in-house mobile fingerprint device.

Known as "INK Biometrics" standing for “Identity Not Known”, it links a TFT sensor to a smartphone to scan suspects’ fingerprints and confirms who they are in 60 seconds.

Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters in London: “I have always been clear in my ambition to make the best possible use of technology to fight crime.

“The speed of analysis this device will offer will allow officers to spend more time fighting crime,” reported the Gravesend Reporter.

The portable device comprises of software produced by Met staff, used on an Android smartphone handset and paired with a Crossmatch fingerprint reader.

"The sensor deployed in the NOMAD 30 Pocket Reader is Crossmatch’s capacitive thin-film transistor (TFT) technology. Utilizing capacitive TFT technology provides for incredibly thin, lightweight devices that are extremely mobile, draw minimal current, operate in direct sunlight and are not effected by tattooed or ink-marked fingers verses the range of other capture technologies," John B. Hinmon, Vice President, Global Marketing at Crossmatch, told Planet Biometrics.

600 of the mobile biometric devices will be rolled out to frontline officers across London in the next six months, noted Government Computing in an online report.

The Met decided to develop their own product and software “when it became clear that doing so could significantly increase the number of devices (fewer than 100 in recent years) at a much reduced cost,” noted the magazine.

The Met expects the new in-house system, which was built and tested by the Met’s Digital Policing division and the Transformation Directorate, to save an estimated £200k in support costs per annum.

Superintendent Adrian Hutchinson, leading the project, said: “If police stop a driver for a traffic violation but the driver has no documents on him and the car is registered to another person officers may not be happy that the name given is correct.

"INK can allow them to confirm the identity to allow the service of a summons, rather than arrest them and take them to a police station where they then confirm their identity. Also, if the person is wanted for other offences, this device will allow us to establish this at the point they are stopped."

However, privacy campaigners complained to the Evening Standard.

Silkie Carlo, Director of Big Brother Watch, said: “The growth of border-style security on our streets should be cause for concern to all of us. That police can now stop and scan people’s fingerprints to check their immigration status is the modern equivalent of being asked to show your papers.

"This tool clearly risks being applied disproportionately to ethnic minorities who have been over-policed for far too long. If there is reason to believe someone has both committed an offence and is lying about their identity, they should be taken to a police station, read their rights, and dealt with properly.”