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Police to fingerprint suspects on the street

Police test the equipment. Picture: Kent Police
Police test the equipment. Picture: Kent Police

Criminals on the run will find it less easy to hide thanks to a new police fingerprinting device.

Kent Police were in Maidstone today road-testing the new hand held machine, which they say will help them save time and catch more criminals.

Previously officers would have had to take suspects into a police station for identification if they suspected them of giving false details.

Using the new machines the process takes only a few minutes.

Fingerprints are sent electronically to the National Fingerprint Database, to see if the person is registered and if further action is required.

Fingerprints of those not wanted by police will be discarded immediately, say police.

Sgt Nigel Stevens from Kent Police’s special operations unit said the public should not feel threatened by the new technology.

“There’s no new powers here; it’s just making it a more efficient way of doing it” he said,

“What is does is save a lot of time, both our time and the public’s. It allows us to do what we would have had to do at the police station.

“If you’re a criminal and committing crime then I want to disrupt you as much as possible. If you think it’s disrupting you, I say that’s a good thing. We’re obviously achieving something.

“If you’re innocent then clearly you don’t want us thinking you’re a criminal so it avoids us having to do that.

“More importantly there are criminals giving people’s details out there; you may well be an innocent person but what you don’t know is your details were given by a criminal last week and you’re now wanted under those details.

“Clearly it’s quite distressing when the police come round knocking on your door.

“This prevents that happening; it denies the criminal that opportunity.”

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