From: David Moss
Sent: 06 June 2012 10:07
To: Stephen Hammond
Subject: 23 May 2012  a good day for UK criminals
Dear Stephen
May I once again approach you for help.
On 23 May 2012 the Metropolitan Police issued a press release announcing that they are now using mobile fingerprint equipment. Patrolling policemen will check the fingerprints of suspects they have stopped in the street and let them go if their prints are not on file, thereby saving police time.
The only figures published by the Home Office date from 2004 and suggest that this fingerprinting technology fails about 20 percent of the time  in about 20 percent of cases no match will be made even if the subject's prints are on file. Which suggests that the chances of guilty people being taken down to the station and arrested have just dropped by about 20 percent. Not only in the Met but in 27 other police forces.
That cannot be the intention of the Home Office. But it is the ineluctable conclusion of the Home Office's own evidence  police time will be saved by allowing 20 percent more criminals to avoid arrest.
Perhaps Nick Herbert, the policing minister at the Home Office, would like to comment in the House on this new way of saving police time. Or maybe Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley and/or the National Policing Improvement Agency could provide the public with respectable, academic statistics proving that flat print fingerprinting technology is now reliable enough.
Without that, it is hard to see how the public can have any confidence in this latest Home office initiative and hard to see why a bemused criminal fraternity shouldn't now be celebrating.
Yours sincerely
David Moss
23 May 2012 press release: Roll-out of mobile fingerprint scanners,
UK Passport Service Biometrics Enrolment Trial Report May 2005, see p.10, para.