Essex Police roll out mobile fingerprint devices

Policeman using the mobile fingerprint device
Image caption Essex Police say the device means their officers can spend more time on the beat

New mobile fingerprint scanners which can check a person's identity in two minutes are being used by Essex Police.

The Mobile Identification (MobileID) devices have been allocated to the force as part of a nationwide roll-out.

So far 530 officers have been trained to use the 45 devices which the force hopes will save time on the beat.

The MobileID checks the fingerprints with a national database, but does not retain them afterwards.

The device is about the size of a mobile and allows police to read the fingerprint of an index finger. The information is then checked against the national database.

Assistant chief constable Sue Harrison said a process that currently could take hours by arresting and detaining someone would now take minutes.

She said: "Using these devices within Essex Police will allow officers to identify people at the roadside.

"This will cut down down on the time taken within police stations to establish someone's identity.

"It will allow us to prove who someone is despite their efforts to conceal their true identity."

Essex Police were one of 28 forces who took part in trials using a similar Lantern mobile fingerprint device in 2006.

It said that trial had seen an average saving of half an hour per case and helped with identification of victims at crime scenes.

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