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Midas Touch: Police Forces To Get Handheld Fingerprint Scanners

Police forces across the United Kingdom are set to receive mobile fingerprint scanners as part of Project Midas (Mobile Identification At Scene) which aims at cutting the time taken to complete criminal investigations.

Over the next 18 months, tens of thousands of devices the size of an average smartphone will be rolled out and will allow police to check a person's identity with the central police biometric database almost in real time, thereby cutting the lengthy process of having to take any suspect to the police station for formal identification.

The Guardian, which first reported (opens in new tab) it, say that the project has been put forward by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).

Proponents of the service - which is set to cost around £40 million for the first part - say that it will save on average 67 minute per fingerprint check and eventually pay for itself in the long run as well for helping ease the strain on police resources.

Furthermore, assurances have been given regarding the fact that none of the fingerprints will be stored but there were added concerns regarding an extended set of features that could turn the Fingerprint scanners into fully fledged Face recognition mobile devices which would eventually be incorporated into the Facial Images National Database (FIND).

Unsurprisingly, MIDAS is imported from the US and even less surprising is that one of the companies bidding for the contract is American Military specialist Northrop Grumman....

Gareth Grossman, Policy Director of Rights Group Liberty, told the Guardian that "Saving time with new technology could help police performance but officers must make absolutely certain that they take fingerprints only when they suspect an individual of an offence and can't establish his identity".

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.