The lantern that brings darkness

May 1st, 2007

Lantern, the project that allows hand-held, mobile fingerprinting has been awarded the Government Computing Award for the best government to government project at last weeks ceremony in central London. This is the second year in a row a police IT project has won the award.

Lantern, managed by the National Policing Improvement Agency, enables the capture of fingerprint details suitable for identifying individuals in an operational environment for the first time. It allows real-time searching of the 6.7 million fingerprints on the national automated fingerprint system (IDENT1) and is being trialled in 10 forces nationwide.

The projects overarching purpose is to establish a persons identity using their fingerprints, away from the police station, thus increasing the time officers spend on the frontline. At present, an officer would need to arrest a person and take them to a suitably-equipped custody suite to do this. Annual savings of over 2.2 million through time saved in pursuing false identities have been forecast.

Barry Taylor, Deputy Chief Constable at Dyfed-Powys Police and Senior Responsible Owner for Lantern, said: Lantern has revolutionised the way police officers work and early results from the trials are showing great savings and efficiencies for the police service. This project once again shows that the NPIA together with the police are leading the field in providing information and communication solutions. Everyone has worked very hard on this project and we are thrilled to receive this award.

At last years ceremony, The Violent Offender and Sex Offender Register (ViSOR) was given the same award for succeeding in joining up the criminal justice system.

NPIA launched on 1 April 2007. The agency takes over a wide range of responsibilities from the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) and Centrex, the police training and leadership body. Both organisations ceased to exist at the end of March. Lantern was one of the projects novated into the NPIA from PITO.

NPIA also takes over responsibility for other areas of work that currently sit outside of these two bodies including police information sharing under the IMPACT Programme and the introduction of Neighbourhood Policing.


Public Technology

Meau2 told us about this Dark Lantern® previously, and as in that post, if you are NOT in the database, what action will the police take? They cannot instantly ‘identify’ you, and so you will need to be hauled down to the police station to be identified, simply because you are not in the DB. The very fact that you are not identifiable will make you an anomaly, an ‘unknown quantity’, dangerous, unpredictable.

This is just one reason why it is such a bad idea.

When you combine this technology with the legislation that makes any offense an arrestable one, it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that eventually, everyone in the UK will eventually end up on this database.

If the Tories do not dismantle this system, along with the NIR, and forbid the immoral and wrong use of these vile techniques then they will have demonstrated that they have failed to understand the pernicious and corrosive nature of this combination of technologies.

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