NEW mobile technology will allow police officers to fingerprint-check suspects on the beat to confirm their identities.

NEW mobile technology will allow police officers to fingerprint-check suspects on the beat to confirm their identities.

Mobile Identification (MobileID) devices have been rolled out to 25 forces across the country following a successful pilot in Cambridgeshire.

They allow officers to scan suspects' fingerprints in the street and compare them against a database of 8.5million prints in just two minutes, without the lengthy process of taking them to a police station to confirm their identities.

Officers expect the device to prove its worth with moving traffic offences, in which people often offer false details initially, but it will also allow the rapid identification of unconscious or fatal victims at crime or accident scenes.

The prints are not stored and are removed from the device once the search has been completed. The comparison database contains prints of people convicted or those involved in ongoing investigations.

Findings from the pilot scheme showed that MobileID brought an average saving of 30 minutes in each case where it was used.

The new approach has been led by the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) as part of a programme to use technology to improve police efficiency.

Deputy chief constable Peter Goodman, who is leading the MobileID roll-out, called it a "step forward", adding: "It will identify offenders, cut down on wasted time in custody suites, enhance officer safety and it will be a powerful tool in the fight against criminals. One of the most powerful weapons criminals have is their ability to hide their true identity. With the advent of MobileID, this will become much more difficult, making our communities that much safer."