Headlines: November 18th, 1999

The Police have been urged to make even greater strides in harnessing new technology to fight crime.Home Office Minister Charles Clarke told the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO) conference that such technology was not available to the Police alone, but to criminals too.

He praised what was being done so far but urged senior police officers to keep up to date with the very latest technologies as they came on stream.

PITO have been involved in the joint development of links between the Police National Computer and DVLA, insurance and MoT databases. The new police radio system currently under development will include sophisticated secure data transfer links and could be used by colleagues in the other emergency services.

Also, the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) is now rolling out, giving all police forces in England and Wales access to a national fingerprint database to identify offenders within seconds compared with previously labour-intensive matching exercises.

A National Strategy for Police Information Systems was developed jointly by the police, police authorities and the Home Office in 1994. The intention is to ensure that the police take full advantage of information technology and get best value for money. A major part of the programme is the production of national software for police use.