Police officers in Avon and Somerset are set to be kitted out with mobile fingerprint scanners to prevent innocent people being confused with suspects.
The force revealed the mooted investment following an investigation into the tasering of Judah Adunbi, a community elder in Bristol who was wrongly identified as a man police wanted to speak to, and the criticism of how the force handled the aftermath.
The officers involved were cleared of wrongdoing but a panel which scrutinises the use of force said Avon and Somerset Police should have learned more from the case.
It said: “The misidentification in January 2017 was the second time this particular misidentification has happened.
“It also happened on two subsequent occasions.
“The panel is dismayed and concerned by Avon and Somerset Constabulary’s lack of organisational learning from these incidents, all of which have led to further adverse press coverage.
“This has caused damage to the work being done to re-establish community relations.”
Mr Adunbi was stopped by two officers who believed he was Royston MacCalla, a man the police wanted to speak to, in January 2017.
He declined to give his name and, after an argument, was hit in the face with a taser barb fired by PC Claire Boddie.
The incident was captured on the officers’ body-worn video cameras, and by a neighbour.
The scrutiny of police powers panel, a “critical friend” of the force set up by set up by the police and crime commissioner Sue Mountstevens, said: “Over the past two years since the January 2017 taser incident, the Avon and Somerset Constabulary has taken a number of important initiatives that demonstrate the organisation is serious about learning from this incident and from other such high profile cases.”
It urged the force to review its protocols, procedures and training “so that officers correctly identify individuals who are to be arrested or served with warrants”.
Assistant Chief Constable Stephen Cullen said in his response: “We aim to provide the best possible data, intelligence and information 24/7 to all our officers and staff so they can make informed ‘real time’ decisions.
“We have made the decision to provide frontline officers with mobile biometric technology to enable real time identification in the field.
“This will be procured and rolled out over the coming 12 to 18 months.”
Stephen Sumner, Local Democracy Reporter