Police get StreetWYSE to digital mugshots

Police get StreetWYSE to digital mugshots

The thin BlackBerry line

Police are using BlackBerry handheld devices to trip up criminals who claim to be someone else when they are stopped and questioned.

The pocket-sized computers help officers to confirm a suspect's identity by downloading digital mugshots of people already on their systems to determine whether the person is who they say they are.

West Yorkshire Police claimed that the new system, dubbed StreetWYSE, has already led to several arrests.

"In September 2005 we conducted an internal survey to find out what else officers would like from their BlackBerry to aid them in their job," said Paul Friday, director of information systems at West Yorkshire Police.

"Responses revealed that officers wanted the BlackBerry to provide them with further intelligence to support street encounters."

Created by West Yorkshire Police's IT department, StreetWYSE is a mobile version of the Force's main computerised intelligence system known as the West Yorkshire Search Engine, or WYSE.

WYSE contains everything the Force knows about individuals, in addition to the comprehensive information stored on the Police National Computer.

Besides being able to access images, the system allows officers discreetly to check other vital information, such as whether an individual is known to carry weapons or is violent to police officers.

West Yorkshire Police currently has 2,500 BlackBerrys in operation, 2,300 of which have been issued to frontline officers.

A statement by the Force said that it took only a few minutes to be trained on how to use a BlackBerry, and that the devices helped save an average of 145 hours per frontline officer per year.

"The introduction of the devices has saved the Force an estimated £8.8m based on the time saved by officers being able to access computer systems while on the streets," said West Yorkshire Police.