UK hires Northrop for fingerprint system

Police Information Technology Organisation

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United Kingdom officials chose Northrop Grumman to supply the biometric technology necessary for the next generation of the country's criminal identification system, company officials announced today.

Northrop won a £122 million ($244 million), eight-year contract to implement the Ident1 system to replace the United Kingdom's National Automated Fingerprint Identification System, bringing the collections of fingerprints and palm prints in England, Scotland and Wales into a single system for the first time. The new system will also allow local police to search the entire collection rather than only their local and national databases.

The fingerprint ID system is run by the Police Information Technology Organisation, which Northrop Grumman officials support under the system's original contract. From late November to early December, NAFIS officials encountered a series of problems that prevented local officers from running searches on the database, but those problems have since been addressed, according to reports in the United Kingdom last week.

The ability to search nationally and across the entire database on palm prints will be an important new feature because palm prints make up nearly 20 percent of marks collected at crime scenes in the country, according to Northrop Grumman officials.

Other initiatives include mobile fingerprint checking, facial imaging and video identification.

U.S. officials have several similar systems, including the FBI's Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System and the Homeland Security Department's Automated Biometric Identification System.

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