By Kevin Doyle
GARDAI are considering buying controversial mobile fingerprint scanners that allow officers to carry out on-the-spot identity checks.
The technology, which has been piloted in Britain, can be linked to a database of fingerprints and may eventually be able to receive images of suspects.
The handheld units are about the size of a BlackBerry and can be used for a range of surveillance reasons, including the policing of big public events, sporting occasions and political conferences, as well as immigration and border controls.
Once the suspect provides his or her fingerprint, the device can run a check against the 300,000 prints that are currently held on the gardai database.
Last year, gardai launched a four-phase project called the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
Two phases of the four phase project have been delivered and are currently in operation.
“An Garda Siochana are constantly reviewing all technological developments for use by its members in order to enhance the delivery of its service to the community,” she said.
Tests on the ID devices in other countries showed that electronic searches, encrypted and sent over public networks, were usually returned to the device within two minutes.
The €17.5m AFIS provides electronic data links with EURODAC and Office of the Refugee Applications Commissioner (ORAC).