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Digital forensics platform to help forces exchange EU fingerprint data

Capability to be housed within the National Crime Agency as national contact point with EU states

The UK International Crime Bureau (UKICB) will be the first agency in the UK to benefit from a new digital capability to enable it to retrieve fingerprints quickly from EU Schengen countries as part of the Prüm arrangements.

The arrangements allow the the movement of anonymised biometric and vehicle registration data between EU states to support cooperation in law enforcement, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime.

The UK has retained access to the system following Brexit. The UKICB is housed within the National Crime Agency and is the National Contact Point for the international exchange of biometric records though IDENT 1 – the national automated fingerprint system.

The integration is technically enabled though Xchange, a new national digital platform for forensics developed for policing by the Transforming Forensics Programme. Hosted in the cloud, Xchange connects forces and agencies to each other enabling them to share services, data and information and giving them easy access to new digital forensics tools.

Xchange will support agencies in the UK and across Europe to increase productivity and speed up turnaround times,. The platform will also provide consistent, standardised processes.

Transforming Forensics and the Forensic Capability Network have worked closely with forces and subject matter experts from the UK law enforcement community on the development of Xchange. Home Office Biometrics (HOB) and the Police Digital Service (PDS) have also been involved.

UKICB is the first service to go live on the platform for the direct automated export of data and will be followed in the next financial year by a document sharing service to support police forces improve their approach to quality management and accreditation and the fingerprint capability.

Kathryn Clarke Head of UKICB said “The facility to directly export master fingerprint records from the national collection following a biometric match has vastly improved efficiency, effectiveness and information management. This will provide real benefit in the fight against international and national criminality.”

Carolyn Pratley, Programme Director, HOB, commented: “The TF Xchange product has enabled the NCA to step up to the role of National Contact Point for Step 2 of Prüm biometric exchanges in readiness for HOB’s imminent rollout of connections to additional EU Member States.  This will help the UK to maximise the benefits of participation in Prüm exchange”.

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