Page last updated at 06:58 GMT, Thursday, 17 July 2008 07:58 UK

Mobile fingerprint device piloted

Lantern device
Police said checking identities at the station takes hours

A new hand held device which checks fingerprints is being used by police in Derbyshire, it has been confirmed.

The Lantern, which is roughly the size of a small shoebox, can check the identity of an individual against police records in two minutes.

Nine of the devices are being used as part of Operation Relentless, the force's crackdown on crime, and have already proved useful.

If no match is found, the information is discarded, officers said.

Derbyshire's Assistant Chief Constable Peter Goodman, who is also the national lead on the project, said the Lantern allowed officers to stay on the streets.

Time saved

"There are two main benefits from the use of Lantern," he said.

"Firstly it helps establish someone's identity which can result in the apprehension of more criminals.

"Secondly, in normal circumstances if a person stopped is unable to verify who they are they are arrested, taken to a police station and have their fingerprints taken in custody.

"Now this can be done in quick time out on the streets reducing the inconvenience to members of the public stopped and freeing up officers both out on patrol and back in custody.

"So far in the initial work we have done with the devices the average time saved to officers on each occasion is at least 30 minutes."

Derbyshire is one of 10 areas in England to pilot the device.

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