Finger print scanners latest weapon for NSW police

Cops to carry millions of fingerprints using wireless technology

The NSW government has spent more than $5 million issuing police with portable digital fingerprint scanners to stop criminals weaseling out of fines, arrest warrants, court appearances and breaches of bail.

The technology was successfully used to identify police records for 10 people arrested at a music festival last Sunday.

All 500 scanners, expected to be rolled out by June under the Field Identification Project first revealed by Computerworld in 2005, will allow police to check offender records in the field, keeping themselves out of the office and on the streets.

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said it is always looking at ways of improving the technology that police officers have access to.

“One of the greatest benefits of the mobile fingerprint scanners is that it improves officer safety,” Scipione said.

“You might pick up an offender for shoplifting, offensive conduct or graffiti, but you never know whether he or she is wanted on more serious or violent charges.”

The units, roughly the size of a portable home phone, are strapped onto officers’ arms or used on a hand-held mounted bracket to maintain safe distance between police and suspects.

Captured fingerprints are uploaded to the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) database using embedded wireless cards, and cross-checked with recorded fingerprints to provide officers with an identity match.

The devices access the database, which contains some four million fingerprint records from every Australian state, within 90 seconds of capturing an offender’s fingerprints.

Scanners connect to the highest grade Telstra wireless service available from Next G, 3G, Edge and GPRS.

Sagem Australasia was awarded the contract to supply the devices in October 2007.

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Kathryn Edwards

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