Finger on the pulse

The UK police service launched hand-held, electronic mobile fingerprinting trials on the 22 November 2006. The year-long trial for project Lantern will be run across 10 forces to assess the feasibility of a national roll-out in the future.
Lantern, previously managed by the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO and now one of the projects novated into the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), enables the capture of fingerprint details suitable for identifying individuals in an operational environment for the first time. It allows real-time searching of the 6.6 million fingerprints on the National Automated Fingerprint System (IDENT1).

Police on the frontline
The project’s overarching purpose is to establish a person’s identity using their fingerprints, away from the police station, thus increasing the time officers spend on the frontline. At present, an officer would need to arrest a person and take them to a suitably equipped custody suite to be able to do this. Annual savings of over £2.2 million through time saved in pursuing false identities have been forecast.
Tony McNulty, Minister for Police and Security, has endorsed the project and said: “This trial represents an important step forward in our commitment to ensuring we have an effective and efficient police service fully equipped for the challenges of modern policing.
“The new technology will speed up the time it takes for police to identify individuals at the roadside, enabling them to spend more time on the frontline and reducing any inconvenience for innocent members of the public. It will also act as a visible deterrent, reducing fear of crime and making criminals less mobile.”

The trials
Bedfordshire Police were the first Lantern live trial force to roll-out and were followed by the another nine pilot forces - West Midlands Police, Metropolitan Police Service, British Transport Police, Lancashire Constabulary, North Wales Police, Essex Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Northamptonshire Police.
The roll-out is complete and there are now 100 devices operational across England and Wales. The project team will now focus on analysing the data received from the forces in order to assess how it increases efficiency.
Northrop Grumman and Sagem have supplied the hand held devices and search capability being used in the pilot. Cable & Wireless are providing encryption services and secure connectivity.

Mobile fingerprint device piloting is being carried out by the Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) teams in the forces. Live mobile identification was initially developed to support this area of police work. ANPR technology allows vehicle number-plates to be cross-checked against databases to identify vehicles that are of interest to the police. If such a vehicle is stopped, police need to also identify the driver and occupants in order to make a decision about the next course of action. At present approximately 60 per cent of drivers who are stopped - whose vehicles show ‘no current keeper’ on the DVLA database - do not give their true identity.
The Lantern device works by electronically scanning the subject’s index fingers. The image is then sent using encrypted wireless transmissions to the central fingerprint database. A real-time search against the national fingerprint collection is then performed. Any possible matches are identified and returned to an officer in a target time of less than five minutes. The fingerprints are not stored in any database, and simply used for authentication purposes.
Caroline Hay, project manager for Lantern, said: “The Lantern pilot is helping police to identify individuals faster at the roadside, thus enabling them to spend more time on patrol without having to make frequent trips back to the main police stations. A number of good arrests have been made, particularly of disqualified drivers presenting false ID. Currently results are being returned to the device in less than two minutes with a hit rate of approximately 40 per cent (that is. 40 per cent of people checked are on the national fingerprint collection). This high hit rate reflects the environment in which the devices are being used - proactive, intelligence-led policing”.

The pilot is scheduled for completion in December 2007 and an analysis of the results will ratify a national rollout. As the Lantern project team work closely with the pilot forces, the benefits are likely to become more evident. Results and feedback received indicates that Lantern is showing time savings beyond expectations and is allowing officers to spend more time on the street.
Barry Taylor, Deputy Chief Constable at Dyfed-Powys Police and Senior Responsible Owner for Lantern, sums it up: “Lantern is a powerful tool in that it allows an officer to make better informed decisions about how to proceed at the point of interaction with an unknown person they suspect of committing an offence.”
A Lantern project brief, which is updated on a monthly basis, is available from the Product Directory via the following link:

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was launched on 1 April 2007, to support the forces to improve the way they work across many areas of policing. The NPIA replaces PITO and takes on significant areas of its operations.Most wanted
Lantern played a large part in apprehending a man who a Detective Inspector in this region termed ‘the most wanted nominal’ in the area.  

When officers stopped a vehicle following an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) hit, the driver was compliant and answered the officers’ questions plausibly. His details were checked, and there was no record of him on the Police National Computer. He backed up his identity with household bills and letters.
But the officers still felt something didn’t add up, and they asked the driver to submit his fingerprints using the portable Lantern device. This resulted in a ‘high confidence’ response showing that in fact he was an individual with a different name, who was wanted for at least two offence warrants.
The suspect was arrested and his identity was confirmed in custody. He had made a great deal of effort to assume a ‘cover’ identity, including changing his appearance so he bore little resemblance to his intelligence photos.For more information
Tel: 020 8358 5555

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