On patrol with fingertip devices

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new fingerprint technology to help police identify people on the streets is being used in South Yorkshire - after officers were given devices allowing them to carry out checks on patrol, instead of at a station.

The Government has rolled out the technology nationwide following successful trials in South Yorkshire and among 27 other forces across the country.

Police can now check suspects’ identity within two minutes on the street, instead of having to take them back to a station. The technology, known as MobileID, has been introduced by the National Policing Improvement Agency to help bobbies make better use of their time. Taking people to a police station to be identified could often take hours.

The devices can also be used to help establish the identities of fatalities when there is nobody at the scene to give officers information.

Sergeant Simon Davies, who is overseeing the project in South Yorkshire, said the force piloted a different device for around two years before a smaller and quicker piece of equipment was developed.

He said the device is especially useful when officers stop strangers on the street who they suspect may be trying to evade justice by providing fake personal details.

“This device is a lot smaller and quicker than the equipment we were originally piloting, and now we can have a result back within two minutes,” he said. “It is all about keeping officers on the street for longer, where people want to see them, rather than them having to go to a police station.”

Tom McArthur, director of operations for the National Policing Improvement Agency, said: “Identification is crucial to police investigations, and giving officers the ability to do this on the spot within minutes is giving them more time to spend working in their communities, helping to fight crime, bringing more offenders to justice.’’