back to article Yorkshire cops have begun using on-the-spot fingerprint scanners

A police force in England has been kitted out with fingerprint scanners to run identity checks in the street. Some 250 scanners have been handed to West Yorkshire Police officers, who will be able to run fingerprint checks against two criminal and immigration biometric databases. In an announcement slipped out over the …

Re: fine with it.

@stopthebollocks - sorry, but the police, as an institution, has been shown time and time again to be racist. A quick Google for "police institutional racism uk" gives you ample evidence of this.

The problem is not that all police are racists, but decisions made are made on the back of information that is itself biased and racist. Its why stop and search invariably targets young black men. Its why black men in the USA are more likely to be killed when coming into contact with police than white men are.

If you have a requirement for due process when fingerprinting, then you eliminate a type of misuse. If its as quick as forcing someone on the street to scan their fingers on the whim of a police officer, then you create a much larger chance for misuse and abuse.

And, depending on the reason I'd need to call the police, sure, I'd call them its kinda one of the things my taxes pay for. I don't hold the overall bias of the force against individuals. Or the actions of individuals against all of them.

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Re: fine with it.

The reason why young black youths are stopped more often is because in certain parts of town they are the ones most likely to be carrying knives. It has nothing to do with racism. This has been proved time and time again but most PC loving peeps chose to ignore it.

Its all part of inner city gang culture. Black gangs fighting other black gangs. You can go on and on about how unfair it is that black youths are stopped and searched in these areas or you can admit that this is where its mostly happening and agree that something needs to be done about it.

I say this knowing full well that it is young black people in these communities who are suffering as knife wielding gangs roam the streets with impunity. Whether these youths are black, white, asian or whatever this situation cannot be allowed to continue.

Young people are dying more or less everyday because of knife crime and it has to stop. White youths are also stopped and searched but you don't get to hear of that because it doesn't fit the media's PC narrative.

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Big Brother

You think this is invasive

Just wait till they've got on the spot DNA scanners.

scene: bloke down the park pushing his kids on the swing, police officer enters stage right

officer: what are you doing with these kids

bloke: they're my children

officer: click click click I don't think so sonny, you're nicked

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Re: You think this is invasive

You jest, but it turns out that chimera DNA causes exactly that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydia_Fairchild

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In an announcement slipped out over the weekend,

At the weekend and no doubt hoped no one saw it.

In a bid to put a positive spin on the handheld scanners, the Home Office suggested it could be used to identify someone in a medical emergency. It was also at pains to emphasise that prints "are automatically deleted from the device once they have been checked

The scanners only link to criminal and immigration databases so not quite sure how that is really going to help if like me the person isn't on them.

Unless of course there going to be systems creep and you intend to expand the scope?

You say prints are automatically deleted, are you completely sure or do you want to check that? you know just in case we need a judge to rule on it later, saves money that way.

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You say prints are automatically deleted,

From the device

Like their previous claim that an ID card wouldn't contain your travel,medical and tax history "on the card" - just in the database it links to.

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"databases so not quite sure how that is really going to help iif like me the person isn't on them"

You will be on them the second time you are stopped.......

The police harvesting fingerprints on a whim or randomly is the biggest downside I see.

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Basically this comes down to "Do you want our police to be able to identify people"

If you think it should be legal to refuse to identify yourself to a representative of the law - then i can see why you'd be concerned.

If you think "In order for the police to have *any* chance of keeping law and order they need to be able to identify people - then this is a tool to facilitate that.

..make with the downvotes

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Anonymous Coward

In general you have no legal obligation to identify yourself to the police unless you are being charged with an offence. Policing in the UK is still (at the moment) "by consent".

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"If you think it should be legal to refuse to identify yourself to a representative of the law..."

Well, yes it is legal (and should remain so). What is your argument for changing that situation?

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"What is your argument for changing that situation?"

Well if a criminal stole my car , and was then pulled over for a check - if he refused to identify himself . The police wouldnt know he wasnt me , and would let him go.

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Do we have a lawyer commentard?

How legal is it to tell copper with device 'Up yours constable'?

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Re: Do we have a lawyer commentard?

Nail on head there buddy.

That is the crux of the issue.

Although I think the answer to your question is "not very"

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Re: Do we have a lawyer commentard?

Step1 - They will only be able to force you if you are arrested.

Step2 - Refusing to voluntarily give your prints will be an arrestable offence

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Get a hobby

Preferably one that requires the use of lashings of superglue, its really difficult to avoid getting it on your fingers.

Everyone should have a hobby like that.

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Re: Get a hobby

Or better yet, involves immersing your fingers in pineapple juice for long periods of time...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Get a hobby

That's a remarkable coincidence - my hobby involves supergluing pineapple pieces together! And then sandpapering them, naturally, to make sure everything is very smooth indeed.

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Re: Get a hobby

Doesn't work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7eLBwCAwmo

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Re: Get a hobby

>Or better yet, involves immersing your fingers in pineapple juice for long periods of time...

Tom Scott tried that on his youtube channel. Did not turn out well. 2nd degree burns...

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Anonymous Coward

"A contract notice for the work, budgeted at up to £308m, is due at the end of the month. ®"

300m to "merge" two databases. In ideal condions I assume this could be dome in 5 minutes with a couple of lines of SQL. "Insert into" or some such. (two much simpler smaller example DBs obviously)

There is no need to increase the price a million fold because the databases are "big" and "important"

Computing power these days is huge. You average home pc could easily hold a database of name and address of everyone in the country. theres only 70m people! you could give them a megabyte of space each for 700gb

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I suspect that there isn't a one to one mapping of any of the fields in either database.

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So it is going to take 30,000 minimum wage assistants each on £10,000 salaries to merge them

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"300m to "merge" two databases. In ideal condions I assume this could be dome in 5 minutes with a couple of lines of SQL. "Insert into" or some such. (two much simpler smaller example DBs obviously)"

Says someone who has obviously never been involved in even a moderately large data migration project.

Your solution will work BUT :

You have three John smiths in the database are they the same person? are they different?

You also have two Steve Mcfaddens they have different national insurance numbers but every other detail is identical - they are obviously the same person - which is correct.

Which database is your master? Can you even identify the master on a DB level or is it conditional on some data in one of the databases? if so what data?

You don't seem to have put ant thought into data integrity so I doubt that you have allocated any time for testing that the apps and reports built on top of the original data still work?

And your comments about a normal PC being able to hold the database are just laughable, I assume youre either trolling or its your first day working on the helpdesk at some big IT company and you think that you know better than everyone else?

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Anonymous Coward

You have three John smiths

You also have two Steve Mcfaddens

Which database is your master?

Trivialities! :p

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Anonymous Coward

TBF, by the time I've had three John Smiths I am seeing two Steve McFaddens.

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Brought to you...

...by the country that exited the EU because (in part) because it didn't want to be forced to follow its human right standards.

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Re: Brought to you...

"the country that exited the EU because (in part) because it didn't want to be forced to follow its human right standards."

Which were mostly written by the country that is now exiting the EU.

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Re: Brought to you...

You should know that it was the UK that helped to create those standards and they will be set in UK law when we leave the EU. Stop being so cynical.

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Re: Brought to you...

You should know that it was the UK that helped to create those standards and they will be set in UK law when we leave the EU. Stop being so cynical.

Except our Dear Leader has been "very clear" that given half a chance, those standards will be replaced with a new "British bill of rights" or similar. This begs the obvious question; if the new 'rights' will be as strong, or stronger than, the existing rights, why revoke the existing ones first? The only possible reason for wanting to do that is if the new ones are weaker and therefore the existing rights would be breached by their introduction.

The British lawmakers and diplomats involved in the drafting of the rights we now enjoy were highly skilled individuals seeking to ensure that the terrible abuses of human rights that had occurred in the preceding decades of European history would not be repeated. They were remarkably successful in that aim, and the finger of suspicion should be pointed firmly at anyone who tries to revoke them, especially if that person has a consistent track record of doing so. Anyone who is paying attention really should be alarmed.

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Anonymous Coward

Another interesting question would be how rigorous is the checking done by this system, e.g. points of similarity vs points of difference. The more strict it is then the lower the false match/nomatch count, but the more useful the scanned data for storing.

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Anonymous Coward

> Another interesting question would be how rigorous is the checking done by this system, e.g. points of similarity vs points of difference.

I usually find doing a few nuts up by hand on my old car is enough to bugger up finger print scanners for quite a while. I hate to think how well these things for people who do a proper manual job rather than spending their lives bashing keyboards.

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Anonymous Coward

It's nice that the UK reminds me why I've decided to turn my life around, get a BSc and get the fuck out of here.

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Alien

Sandpaper

Think I'll start selling packs of 2" (about 5cm for you decimilized peeps) of sandpaper - just the thing to fit in your driver's door pocket to sand your prints off when caught.

Alien icon cos we all knowz that aliens don't have fingerprints

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Re: Sandpaper

You realise that if they suspect that you have committed a crime and you cant be identified they just arrest you?

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Anonymous Coward

How long

Until it's linked to DHS immigration database?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How long

"Until it's linked to DHS immigration database?"

Already is. They also check the background of parents of immigrant children attending schools.

https://schoolsweek.co.uk/schools-must-collect-data-on-immigrant-children-from-autumn/

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Re: How long

And to their face-id "trial".

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The digital storage of finger prints is very proprietary and most governments end up with several databases of them that cannot be compared

I carry a certificate issued by the national registration department stating that my finger print cannot be read for my identity card, once you are over 50 your print quality collapses

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Meh

It was also at pains to emphasise that prints "are automatically deleted from the device once they have been checked".

Er, what? I'm always suspicious when someone takes pains to answer a question they weren't asked. Always reminds me of the "what's under the carpet? Ha ha, it's not a dead body." "Nobody asked you what was under the carpet" type of gag...

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Or, based on previous experience they knew it would come up and decided to save everyone some time?

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WTF?

Am I missing something?

There are two issues here:

1. Digital fingerprint scanning against a national database.

2. Going mobile.

How is the first worse than the old ink-and-filing-cabinets method?

How is the second worse than wasting time down the nick?

I'm not trolling, just genuinely ignorant.

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Re: Am I missing something?

Automatic cross referencing the fingerprints of anyone questioned by the police against a national scale database of every criminal , illegal immigrant and unsolved crime, on the spot, with no suspicion of the person being questioned of being involved in a particular crime.

What could go wrong?

Lets see, your fingerprint is a false positive match for 40 unsolved burglaries two counties over.

The police arrest you on suspicion of being "light fingered Bob" (police nickname for uncaught criminal).

You can prove where you are for some of the burglaries and have an alibi , but some of them you were alone at home watching telly.

Police report just the ones where you don't have an alibi to the CPS, who are down on their quota for cases this month.

Trial eventually collapses (if you are lucky) without additional evidence being provided.

You get pulled over again later - this time you are light fingered Bob with previous arrest and trial against your record.

repeat ad nauseum.

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Re: Am I missing something?

It costs time and money to haul someone down to finger print 'em; and, if I understand UK Law, they are entitled to have a solicitor, and waiting for them to slither in arrive can use up more time/money.

This is a Good Thing. If a person can get something with no outlay of resources, than either a)that thing becomes valueless, b) the person gets as much of >thing< as they can, or c) all of the above.

People didn't have a problem with tapped calls when it took a warrant, a lineman, and some poor schlub to listen to the calls. However, when the lineman was replaced with a trunk-wide tap, and the poor schlub was replaced with a key-word filter, it soon became clear that the warrant had only been used to manage resources.

If the plod need to take you to the station to get your prints, they will only do so when there is a strong reason to, with a portable scanner, they will take prints on a whim (as above, probably with time + location "metadata" attached) and, given fingerprinting's less-than-stellar record for avoiding collisions, the more prints they take the more likely you are to be done for something you did not do.

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Re: Am I missing something?

"with a portable scanner, they will take prints on a whim"

They are supposed to have good reason before doing so. But yes, it does make abuse of the system that much easier. Thanks.

Still, I can't see such obviously timesaving technology being withdrawn. Maybe we should be demanding greater accountability, an audit trail accessible to the citizen, and such like. You can't put the scanner back on the desktop any more than you can put the phone tap back on the telegraph pole.

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Re: Am I missing something?

They are supposed to have good reason before doing so.

Like wearing a loud shirt in a built up area, or loitering with intent to use a pedestrian crossing?

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Re: Am I missing something?

"Automatic cross referencing the fingerprints of anyone questioned by the police against a national scale database of every criminal , illegal immigrant and unsolved crime, on the spot, with no suspicion of the person being questioned of being involved in a particular crime."

That sir is bollocks. Big hairy sweaty bollocks.

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Re: Am I missing something?

Also, in addition to my previous comment.

None of what you said in your comment is unique to mobile handheld scanners, the above could happen just as easily with the current process of taking you into the station*

* Though Ill point out that "Lantern" mobile fingerprint scanners have been in use for YEARS so the only difference here is that the price of the tech has come down allowing wider adoption.

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The fingerprints are "automatically deleted from the device" after they've been scanned in? I don't believe that for a second. It will be some legalistic use of words - eg they are deleted from the machine AFTER they've been uploaded to a database to be kept for eternity whether you're a criminal or not.

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Big Brother

My guess/interpretation of that statment

  • The device scans the fingerprint, and generates the hash.
  • The phone/app uploads the hash to the CopNet DB, along with time + location
  • The DB queries the hash against "known baddies" (Which includes any hash in the DB), then stores the uploaded hash + metadata
  • The hash is then deleted from the device and perhaps even the phone, if TPTB decide to go that route

Et Viola, your fingerprint was never even saved.

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