Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fingerprint reading machines linked to the National Fingerprint Register are operated by police forces in the UK; and how many checks were carried out in each year since these machines became available. [207466]

    Caroline Flint [holding answer 10 January 2005]: At present there are 198 Livescan Units in use in police forces in England and Wales, linked to the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) to take fingerprints from arrestees.

    The number of identity checks 1 and submissions 2 carried out since the introduction of Livescan in England and Wales are as follows.

    1 An “identity check” is where a police officer takes the fingerprints of a person in custody only to check whether a record exists on the NAFIS Database.

    2 A “submission” is where the prints take from the-person in custody, is recorded on the NAFIS database and creates a Police National Computer (PNC) record. This process still includes an identity check.

    2000 1,690
    2001 102,099
    2002 343,692
    2003 524,729
    2004 703,626

    The steady increase in the number of fingerprints taken reflect the increasing use by forces of the technology.

    I understand from the Scottish Executive that police forces in Scotland started using Livescan Units in August 1997. There are now 33 Livescan units in use by Scottish forces.

    19 Jan 2005 : Column 961W

    The number of identity checks and submissions carried out are:
    1997?98 50,938
    1998?99 65,368
    1999?2000 68,000
    2000?01 60,792
    2001?02 61,349
    2002?03 60,467
    2003?04 64,735
    2004?05 (to 31 December 2004) 54,638

    The Police Service of Northern Ireland is currently piloting the use of Livescan technology. One machine has been installed at a police station in Belfast, and has been operational since 4 October 2004. Between 4 October 2004 and 10 January 2005 this machine handled 200 identity checks and submissions. The results of the pilot scheme will be analysed and decisions on expanding the use of the technology will be taken in light of that analysis.