London Crackdown Continues — Police Using Mobile Fingerprint Scanners To Nab Criminals On The Spot

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Police in the UK can now scan fingerprints on-site and gets results in 30 seconds.

Sherlock Holmes would likely be uncharacteristically doling out high praise to Scotland Yard for employing the latest technology for the Olympics.

In preparation for this year's summer Games, the London Metropolitan Police are going to great lengths to avoid anything even remotely resembling last year's riots. Toward that end, 350 mobile fingerprint scanners have been handed out to the police for on-site identification of suspects and wanted criminals. The scanners, which appear to be from 3M Cogent, work with smartphones to allow the bobbies to scan a fingerprint and get a response from HQ in 30 seconds or less.

If Dr. Watson is right, that London is a "great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained," then these scanners could come in handy as the police make their patrols.

Check out this video from the Essex Police division demonstrating how on-site fingerprinting will help keep streets safer:

According to the Guardian, the scanners are just one of a number of cutting edge technologies being used to ensure this year's Olympics are secure. New police scanners and biometric ID cards are being distributed. License plate tracking and facial recognition (improved, I hoped, from the last time they were used) CCTV systems are being installed. Additionally, the police will have more centers and an increased number of checkpoints as well.

If Holmes had a fingerprint scanner back in late 19th century London, he surely would have outed a disguised Moriarty in no time before the villain tried to kill him in The Final long as he also had the entire mobile infrastructure to support it. Alas...

[Media: YouTube]

[Sources: The Guardian, Yahoo]

David J. Hill

Managing Director, Digital Media at Singularity University
I've been writing for Singularity Hub since 2011 and have been Editor-in-Chief since 2014. My interests cover digital education, publishing, and media, but I'll always be a chemist at heart.

Discussion — 3 Responses

  • Paul Rattner June 13, 2012 on 4:20 am

    What a wonderful new invention! Now citizens no longer need to carry identification papers around with them–they ARE their identification papers! Any time one of the hundreds of thousands of officers swarming the streets of London and the West wishes to demand to see someone’s papers, they just have to whip out this nifty new scanners and BAM! instant ID, RAP sheet you name it.

    The added productivity at all levels of society is going to be simply amazing. Now whenever a faceless bureaucrat needs to restrict a citizen’s travel for any number of a growing list of petty offenses, or just tag an individual as a shifty, second class citizen, they can do it with the touch of a button in a nice, centralized database with no fear of forged identifications, expired papers, or external review!

    And let’s not overlook the foreign sales potential of a device like this. If it tests out well in the UK, imagine how excited and eager the governments of China and Eastern Europe will be to apply this new toy to controlling their unruly populations.

    What a miracle device! What a glorious tool for the promotion of the State! Onward to the light-devouring singularity looming on the event horizon! Huzzah!

  • SwordFishData June 13, 2012 on 5:17 am

    Your ideas intrigue me, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I take it that the UK does not have anything resembling the illegal search and seizure/due process laws that we still have (in theory) here in the US?

  • sarfralogy June 13, 2012 on 9:51 am

    According to a BBC report last week, this technology is already being used in 16 boroughs and — unlike the fingerprint readings from MobileID — the police hang onto the extracted data.