Feeds

UK police fingerprint system collapses

Software glitch fingered

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Computer problems have left police forces in England and Wales unable to run national fingerprint checks for more than a week.

All 43 forces in England and Wales, including London's Metropolitan Police, were affected by a software bug, which disrupted connections to the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (Nafis) since the early hours of Wednesday, 24 November.

The exact cause of the problem remains unclear and will become the subject of an audit once services are fully restored.

Nafis is run for the Police IT Organisation (PITO) by Northrop Grumman. A spokesman for PITO said that service was restored to 30 forces by the end of last week. "All forces - bar one - are now up and running."

Fingerprint experts were still able to compare prints against local databases, but national checks on suspects or evidence from crime scenes were hindered. A leaked memo - written by Bruce Grant, head of the Met's Fingerprint Bureau - said that the networking problem meant "that no offender's identity can be verified", the London Evening Standard reports.

A PITO spokesman told The Register that problems accessing Nafis did not have a significant effect on investigations. "No data was compromised; it's simply that police had difficulty running searches. If a force couldn't access the national database they could use other forces. We had contingency plans in place," he said. PITO said the communication problems were the first major difficulty to befall Nafis after years of reliable operation.

However, the failure comes at the worst possible time for the Home Office. Ministers are seeking to convince the public the government can roll-out an ID card system, underpinned by biometric technology such as fingerprints, without IT problems.

Established in 2001, Nafis has expanded include more than five million sets of prints and over half a million crime scene marks, according to the latest figures from PITO. A national ID register would be a much larger undertaking. ®

Related stories

Fingerprints to become compulsory for all EU passports
Police to retain DNA records of cleared suspects
FBI apology for Madrid bomb fingerprint fiasco
Everything you never wanted to know about the UK ID card
UK public wants ID cards, and thinks we'll screw up the IT
Fingerprints as ID - good, bad, ugly?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SMASH the Bash bug! Apple and Red Hat scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
Shellshock: 'Larger scale attack' on its way, warn securo-bods
Not just web servers under threat - though TENS of THOUSANDS have been hit
Apple's new iPhone 6 vulnerable to last year's TouchID fingerprint hack
But unsophisticated thieves need not attempt this trick
Oracle SHELLSHOCKER - data titan lists unpatchables
Database kingpin lists 32 products that can't be patched (yet) as GNU fixes second vuln
Who.is does the Harlem Shake
Blame it on LOLing XSS terroristas
Researchers tell black hats: 'YOU'RE SOOO PREDICTABLE'
Want to register that domain? We're way ahead of you.
Stunned by Shellshock Bash bug? Patch all you can – or be punished
UK data watchdog rolls up its sleeves, polishes truncheon
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.