Police hopeful of using new fingerprinting devices roadside

12:07 pm on 16 May 2024
Fingerprint reader. Biometric security system

The police have asked tech companies what they can offer and at what price. File pic Photo: 123RF

The police say if they get new fingerprinting devices, they will aim to use at the roadside on drivers they intend to charge, as the law allows.

A tender shows they want to add 130 or so portable fingerprint biometric recording devices, and replace another 50 fixed ones at police stations that have been in use for several years.

The police have asked tech companies what they can offer and at what price.

They currently have about 20 old fingerprint scanners hooked up to cameras in booze buses, and aim to improve that.

"Police are seeking information from the market to understand and assess alternative technology to improve but replicate the current process for mobile road safety biometric capture for persons police intend to charge," police told RNZ.

One advance if they buy new devices and a support system would be the ability to search scanned images using algorithms.

The law allows for taking biometric information in "mobile road safety" environments.

The portable devices would also be used to capture prints left at crime scene.

Young man during crime investigation in office

A police officer looks for fingerprints at the scene of a crime. File pic Photo: 123RF

New Zealand is following overseas policing trends on this.

Portable biometric recording devices or scanners - handheld devices that gather fingerprint, iris, facial, and other biological information about subjects in the field - have proliferated at US and UK police departments for well over a decade.

"Police officers across the country will soon be able to check an individual's identity at the roadside within two minutes," a UK police news site said in 2008.

Last year, the UK's biometrics commissioner repeated a criticism that police had a "culture" of retaining fingerprints, DNA and other biometric images when they should have deleted them.

Proponents of portable biometrics say it boosts police efficiency and helps law enforcement keep people safe.

The market is growing and many companies are aggressively marketing the devices.

Market analysts have projected fourfold growth in the global fingerprint biometrics market in a decade, to $120 billion by 2032, driven in part by [https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/fingerprint-biometrics-market

"key technological developments"] but constrained by "operational concerns related to privacy, security".

"Agencies are modernising their policing practices when it comes to verifying suspects from the field with Rapid ID, which brings new-found levels of efficiency and intelligence to officers on patrol around the globe ... during routine traffic stops and daily encounters while on the beat," said an online post from US company HID, that links to a video showing UK police using mobile fingerprinting.

HID now owns Florida company Crossmatch, which provided the scanners currently used on New Zealand police booze buses.

If police here opt to buy new devices, they might provide the back-office storage and network themselves, but also might go all out with switching to what is known as software-as-a-service, a tender document showed.

Police would vet any company staff who provided support, it said.

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