Independent By Chris Greenwood, Press Association
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Every police force in England and Wales will be equipped with mobile fingerprint scanners to check the identity of suspects in the street.
Up to 3,000 devices, the size of a mobile phone, will enable officers on patrol to cross-reference prints with national records.
Senior officers claimed the scheme would speed up criminal inquiries, bring more people to justice and save thousands of hours of police time.
But fears have arisen the technology could contribute to the so-called “surveillance state” and encourage random searches.
Police said scanned fingerprints would only be stored for a short time while they were checked and would not be added to any databases.
The National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) said the contract was worth £9 million over three years.
A limited trial of 330 mobile fingerprint devices, in which heavier machines were carried by motorway patrols, started in 2006 and eventually involved 28 forces.
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