Section 117 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 amended the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to allow police officers the power to take fingerprints away from a police station, if need be without consent, following an offence and prior to an arrest.
Section 117 of the 2005 Act has not yet been brought into force and its enactment will be dependent on the successful outcome of the current trial of hand-held mobile fingerprint readers.
The Lantern device is a tool to aid officers in identifying individuals at the roadside and hence to assist them in deciding how to proceed. The fingerprints taken are searched against the national fingerprint collection (IDENT1) and a result is returned containing details of any matches. No fingerprint records are created and the fingerprints are not retained.
Section 24 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, as amended by section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, deals with all powers of arrest. Section 24(5) allows an officer to arrest, following an offence, if the name or address of the subject is not known, cannot be ascertained, or is believed to be false. The roadside fingerprint check may obviate the need for the officer to make an arrest.
The Lantern device has been configured to hold a maximum of 100 sets of fingerprints. This works on a rolling 100 basis so that if a 101st set of prints is taken then the first set would be deleted. In addition, officers have been provided with a button that allows then to delete all prints from the device and they are being trained to use that function at the start and end of their shift. Prints can also be deleted with the subject watching at the end of the encounter. The Lantern device is a tool to aid officers in identifying individuals at the roadside and hence to assist them in deciding how to proceed. Once the encounter has been concluded there is no reason to retain the prints further. No demographic data (i.e. name, date of birth etc.) is input into the Lantern device, so no purpose can be achieved by storing them. Fingerprints taken at the roadside can be deleted with the subject watching. In any event, the device database is purged at regular intervals during the operating day. Fingerprints obtained at the roadside, are not collected with any identifying demographic data, and therefore remain anonymous, so no purpose can be achieved by storing them.