back to article London fuzz to get 600 more mobile fingerprint scanners

London police are scaling up their use of mobile fingerprint scanners, with 600 shiny new devices due to be doled out by early 2019. The Metropolitan Police said the new devices – the software for which was developed in-house – would save about £200,000 in support costs each year, allowing many more cops to use them. Fewer …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worrying

    "the software for which was developed in-house"

    Very worrying. The Met have a bad reputation for sooooo many things (sufficient certainly to obscure the much good stuff I'm confident that do achieve) that it makes me wonder WTF they were doing getting into software development.

    In any event, I presume that ACPO (or whatever name they masquerade under now) have snatched the copyright of the software the public have paid for?

    1. Steve Medway

      Re: Worrying

      What is this software... Does it scan a fingerprint? No not technically, the API for that is from the finger print scanner attached to said device. Is it comparing the fingerprint? Probably not, its more likely to be transmitted to a server already running the matching comparison software.

      Some bright spark in the met thought, we can do this better, cheaper and faster than the alternatives - the beancounters agreed.

      The Met would never be allowed to employ a software company directly without great difficulty, a services company must be involved! It's good for you, we promise say the gov. of the time.

      If you seriously want to outsource something as trivial as this to Crapita et al. you should hang your head in shame.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Worrying

      "the software for which was developed in-house"

      I wonder...

      if one day, just like say the Streetview camera data slurp, Diesel Emissions defeat, "Engineers" will get blamed when they discover the data stored somewhere when it should have been deleted

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Worrying

      Software developed in-house?

      *** holds down magic button combo ***

      "The device is saying there's an active warrant for your arrest. You'll need to come with us sir..."

  2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Too one-sided

    Best thing to do is refuse to submit to having your prints taken on the street. If the police officer has sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime, they should arrest you so that you get a free lawyer and start the clock ticking. If they don't have sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime they should be leaving you alone rather than carrying out speculative identity checks on people who happen to be in a particular area on the grounds that there are bound to be one or two illegals amongst the hundreds checked.

    Or maybe wet your finger with a plastic solvent before pressing it against the officer's scanner.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too one-sided

      Issue free scanners to every member of the public who are then allowed to approach anyone in uniform and scan them to confirm they are genuine police etc .

      It's the only way to be safe from terrorists

    2. durandal

      Re: Too one-sided

      > If they don't have sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime they should be leaving you alone rather than carrying out speculative identity checks

      Well, yes. That's what the law says. The scanners are there to be used when somebody who would be liable to arrest because there are doubts as to their identity can, instead, have their ID checked on the roadside.

      If you can confirm that Mrs Miggins is in fact Mrs Miggins, then you open up alternative avenues such as a voluntary attendance interview, on-street charge or a PND, rather than nicking her just because you can't confirm her identity.

      This isn't new technology and neither are the processes behind it. This is newsworthy because the MPS have developed their own implementation.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too one-sided

        It would be expensive time consuming and politically tricky to round up everyone picking fruit arrest them and take them down to the station to find out which ones aren't true subject of Her Maj.

        Come next spring the police need a way of finding the foreigners living among us - especially those tricky european foreigners who sneakily look white.

      2. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: Too one-sided

        @durandal >>have their ID checked on the roadside.<<

        Thus the Met are neatly getting almost all the benefits of an ID card check for anyone lucky enough to have ever had their prints taken.

      3. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Re: Too one-sided

        Well, yes. That's what the law says. The scanners are there to be used when somebody who would be liable to arrest because there are doubts as to their identity can, instead, have their ID checked on the roadside.

        If you can confirm that Mrs Miggins is in fact Mrs Miggins, then you open up alternative avenues such as a voluntary attendance interview, on-street charge or a PND, rather than nicking her just because you can't confirm her identity.

        Unless Mrs Miggins has been arrested and fingerprinted, how the fuck does it do that? I don't believe the "Shithole formerly known as the UK" is quite at the fingerprints-taken-at-birth stage just yet.

    3. wyatt
      Meh

      Re: Too one-sided

      Problem with this is that once you're arrested there's a good chance you'll be processed at a custody unit.

      This will create a PNC record, finger prints will be taken, photo and DNA. Whilst if you're not charged some of this will be destroyed, not all of it so you'll have created a footprint within the system.

      Yes it will start the 24hr detainment rule, giving you access to legal advice but it also means you could be bailed to return or charged with obstruction (even though you're following your rights..).

      Kind of dammed if you and dammed if you don't. We all know that law enforcement operate fairly now don't we..

    4. Stratman

      Re: Too one-sided

      Or maybe wet your finger with a plastic solvent before pressing it against the officer's scanner.

      I have a golf GPS device with a touch sensitive screen (Garmin Approach G6). Said screen has developed several baked in fingerprints caused, as far as I can work out, by suncream.

      Jus' sayin'.

    5. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Too one-sided

      Best thing to do is refuse to submit to having your prints taken on the street.

      No it isn't.

      If the police officer has sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime, they should arrest you so that you get a free lawyer and start the clock ticking.

      Unfortunately being arrested, whether or not you are subsequently charged, has real life consequences. One of which is inelligibility for omse possibly important visa waiver schemes, such as the one for the USA.

      I have to travel there for work periodically, and have had to do so for numerous prior employers, so need the waiver scheme for my work. Lots of places presume you haven't committed genocide, and there's so few people with HIV/AIDS and so many people with a criminal record, that elligibility for the scheme (which employers are entitled to enquire about) is used as a proxy for "Do you have a criminal conviction that is timed out under ROA?".

      Don't shoot the messenger over this please, but what is, is. It's not my idea and its not something I influence.

      If they don't have sufficient grounds to believe that you have committed a crime they should be leaving you alone rather than carrying out speculative identity checks on people who happen to be in a particular area on the grounds that there are bound to be one or two illegals amongst the hundreds checked.

      This will probably mostly be used to verify that drivers stopped while commiting offences are who they say they are, and not the person insured on the car. No verifiable ID, then please put a hand on this device Sir.

      I would expect there to be fewer applications of the tech for all other use cases, once it goes live.

      Or maybe wet your finger with a plastic solvent before pressing it against the officer's scanner.

      And risk going from being an innocent suspect who could have cleared themselves effortlessly in a second, to someone possibly guilty of criminal damage? Sorry, but I'm not sure you've thought this through.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Too one-sided

        "

        This will probably mostly be used to verify that drivers stopped while commiting offences are who they say they are, and not the person insured on the car. No verifiable ID, then please put a hand on this device Sir.

        "

        And if neither you nor the insured party (if different) has ever been arrested, exactly how would it do that? If you are driving a car the police officer already has the right to see your driving licence, which has a photograph with which to identify you - and if you don't have your licence with you the police officer has the right to arrest you (though they will usually issue a "producer" unless there is significant doubt).

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Too one-sided

      They aren't taking your fingerprints, they are scanning one or two fingers and comparing them with their database to see if you are wanted. Taking your fingerprints involves a very different process.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Too one-sided

        "

        They aren't taking your fingerprints, they are scanning one or two fingers and comparing them with their database to see if you are wanted.

        "

        I was replying to a person who stated that it would enable police to verify that a driver is who he says he is. It wouldn't unless the driver's fingerprints are already on record.

  3. Daedalus Silver badge

    Great!

    Time to start a pool. Will the first instance of a "lost" scanner be on a bus, on a train, in a pub, or in one of those establishments that cater to special tastes?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    “If there is reason to believe someone has both committed an offence and is lying about their identity, they should be taken to a police station, read their rights, and dealt with properly.”

    Police have resourcing issues to consider.

    1. goldcd

      I'm guessing you still have the same right to be carted off to be identified

      Really don't see an issue with there being a "done here in 60 seconds option".

      If you're lying you might be dissuaded from pissing everybody else off by wasting an hour, and if you aren't you get to go on your way.

      I'm all for limitation of powers, anti-big-brother blah blah - but this is just a tool that gets the same thing get done faster.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: I'm guessing you still have the same right to be carted off to be identified

        >>If you're lying you might be dissuaded from pissing everybody else off by wasting an hour, and if you aren't you get to go on your way.<<

        Isn't the assumption of lying the usual starting point for anyone looking a bit shifty and if any plod gets 'pissed off' by having to follow standard procedure they're in the wrong job.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @goldcd Re: I'm guessing you still have the same right to be carted off to be identified

        Really don't see an issue with there being a "done here in 60 seconds option".

        [...]

        I'm all for limitation of powers, anti-big-brother blah blah - but this is just a tool that gets the same thing get done faster.

        Agreed.

        I have some personal experience with this.

        I am a photographer, and it comes with the territory that you get stopped every so often if you're taking photos in a public place of something which could be seen as a potential target.

        Which is just what I was doing when one of the boys in blue stopped me and did the whole "' ello 'ello 'ello, what's going on 'ere then?" routine. Because of where I was, he was (and I can see his point of view) taking this very seriously.

        Now, I could have followed the "I know my rights" thing, and refused to do very much unless I'd been taken to the station, read my rights, legal representation, etc. As it was, I knew I was in the clear so I volunteered to give him my name, show him photographic ID, fire up my phone and show him a few websites with my photographic work on them. It took about 2 minutes of civil conversation to establish that I was bona fide and I was allowed to continue with what I was doing.

        To my mind a minor inconvenience compared to losing the rest of the evening to a trip to the local cop shop.

        1. MaltaMaggot

          Re: @goldcd I'm guessing you still have the same right to be carted off to be identified

          2 minutes of civil conversation will positively improve almost any situation. Full stop.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So if you refuse the scan it's a trip to the station.

    Don't you just love living in a totalitarian state.

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      So if you refuse the scan it's a trip to the station.

      Don't you just love living in a totalitarian state.

      I think you're doing a disservice to those that actually have to live in a totalitarian state.

  6. Keef

    Not stored?

    'the fingerprints are not stored and are automatically deleted from scanners once they have been checked against the databases and the officer has logged off the device'

    If they are not stored why would they need to be deleted once the officer has logged off the device?

    Shirley if they are not stored no deletion would be needed. I call bullshit.

    As they clearly are being stored on the device there is no mention of what happens to that data *before* the officer logs off. Download to a server, then delete from device once logged off?

    I just don't trust them.

  7. Rajiv_Chaudri

    Yes, I'm sure a fingerprint scanner will stop the knife attacks & murders that have become daily occurrences here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, murders in London are running at one every other day.

      On the other hand stabbings are around 14 a day, and moped-assisted crimes about 60 a day. I do wonder what the coppers do these days, other than accrue a fat pension.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        Sit around doing metadata searches waiting for you to incriminate yourself.

  8. Martin-73 Silver badge

    Why immigration database

    As title. No reason for the police to deal with it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why immigration database

      I guess it could be used to prove innocence.

      Let's say somebody has come into the country and had their details on the immigration database.

      Through pure bad luck, they happen to look a lot like a different person who is a wanted criminal.

      They get stopped on suspicion of being the crim. A quick fingerprint check confirms their identity as an innocent person'A', recently arrived from the colonies, rather than local scrote 'B' wanted in connection with a string of robberies, and they can be left to go about their business.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    McJustice

    Would you like cuffs with those?

    Real justice takes time.

    It should not become a gimmick.

  10. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Android fingerprint API ?

    >>In July, Dick admitted she didn’t expect the use of automated facial recognition tech to result in "lots of arrests" – but that the public would "expect" cops to trial it.<<

    Expect, maybe - agreeing with the principle, not so much.

    If this is using the standard Android API for fingerprint processing then I'd really like to see how the application can prevent the OS from accessing the returned PNC information.

  11. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    With ultra hi-res CCTV and adaptive optics/image enhancing algorithms they could probably nab your fingerprints as you're walking down the street.

    1. Alister Silver badge

      They can just get your fingerprint off the reflection of the door handle that you just touched, reflected in a rain drop on the window opposite, which you can see in the mirror which is mounted on the corner of the street from the CCTV camera round the corner...

      It's easy, I've seen it on the telly...

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        It's easy, I've seen it on the telly...

        It's not that easy. There will be cases where the image is a bit fuzzy, and you have to say "enhance" out loud to make it clearer.

  12. blugir

    they should arrest you so that you get a free lawyer and start the clock ticking.

    1. Scroticus Canis Silver badge

      @blugir "...so that you get a free lawyer..."

      I suspect that you are a solicitor/lawyer or married to one.

      I can see the use of these scanners would result in a drop in business for the legal profession and a saving for the public purse.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

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