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Cops launch handheld intelligence

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Police on the streets of West Yorkshire went live yesterday with handheld computers that link them to a host of criminal and intelligence databases.

After a pilot involving about 30 officers earned the all-clear, the BlackBerry handheld computers were issued to 2,500 officers.

Paul Friday, director of information systems at West Yorkshire Police, said the handhelds would give officers access to "everything we know about a person".

"We hold intelligence on people we know to be criminals and suspect of being criminals," he said.

But, he insisted the project gave officers nothing more than they could either already request over the radio or find at the police station. It was merely being shovelled into one device.

"So it's more likely, if you are a criminal, we will be able to do something, and if you're not we won't be able to mess you around," Friday said.

Police will be able use their handheld to request information such as someone's personal details, address, known associates, warnings, and previous records.

It will also include access to local criminal and custody records, and will pull out arrest warrants, which are available the instant they are issued by the courts.

Finally, it will connect to the Police National Computer, which contains records of convictions. The PNC has to be accessed separately, though West Yorkshire police are working to have them linked on a single screen.

The StreetWYSE system is similar to the Impact Nominal Index, the pilot for a national intelligence database. ®

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