Five law enforcement organisations have partnered to deliver a ground-breaking new digital service that will help to identify foreign criminals, solve serious crimes and protect the public across the UK and European Union.

Transforming Forensics (TF), Home Office Biometrics (HOB), and the Forensic Capability Network (FCN), working in partnership with the Police Digital Service (PDS), have successfully integrated with national automated fingerprint system IDENT1 on behalf of the UK International Crime Bureau (UKICB) of the National Crime Agency (NCA).

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

Integration with IDENT1 will enable the UKICB to retrieve fingerprints quickly and efficiently, as part of its role as the National Contact Point Step 2 for the international exchange of biometrics under the Prüm Provision which facilitates the move of anonymised biometric and vehicle registration data between member states to support cooperation in law enforcement, particularly in combating terrorism and cross-border crime.  

IDENT1 integration was being developed by TF as part its end-to-end national digital fingerprint capability. The UKICB identified an opportunity for enhancing public safety, efficiency and value for taxpayers and approached TF via HOB to work together on the additional functionality.

Through collaborative working between the organisations involved, the UKICB capability has become a reality. UKICB oversaw definition of project requirements and managed preparations for integration with its services. TF led on developing the technical solution, acting as a central point of contact for the project. HOB supported development of the technical integration and provided access to IDENT1. FCN managed development of business processes and defined how the service will be managed. PDS developed the capability alongside the platform that will provide technical enhancement and ongoing support, together with its supplier CACI, which will manage the operational service on a day-to-day basis.

Xchange will support agencies in the UK and across Europe to increase productivity and speed up turnaround times, enabling them to deliver faster and higher quality analysis and improved operational outcomes. The platform will also provide consistent, standardised processes and enable agencies to work better together, enhancing resilience, efficiency and effectiveness

TF and FCN have worked closely with forces and subject matter experts from the UK law enforcement community on the development of Xchange and the capabilities that will be deployed on it. The 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.

Richard Meffen, TF Programme Director, said:

“We’re delighted to have delivered this integration for NCA through Xchange. I’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the organisations and teams involved. This is a great example of the value we can create when law enforcement agencies work together. The UKICB requirement is the first capability to go live on Xchange so is a real milestone. But it’s also just the start. It’s hugely exciting to consider how else we might pursue integration and what other capabilities could be deployed in addition to those we’re already developing on behalf of policing”.

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 and the aim of greater protection for the public”.    

Ian Bell, PDS CEO said:

“This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved through working in partnership at a national level to enable UK law enforcement to respond quicker and more effectively to the challenges posed by the complexities of modern, borderless criminal activity. I am delighted with the role PDS has played in developing the support capability for Xchange and look forward to continuing to work with our law enforcement partners and supplier community providers to deliver capabilities that create a more digitally enhanced police service.”

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”.