CAMPAIGNERS have criticised police plans for on-the-spot fingerprint scanning, saying the scheme is "racial profiling on a national level".

Racial justice organisation Just Yorkshire called on West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson to "be upfront" about the project, which will see West Yorkshire police officers use a mobile phone app and a small scanner to check people's fingerprints against criminal and immigration records.

Just Yorkshire director Nadeem Murtuja said the plans could be used to target minority groups.

He said: “I am deeply concerned that the Home Office has quietly chosen to roll out this portable, on the spot finger print scanning scheme in West Yorkshire, with little or no debate with the public, or in parliament.

"The people of West Yorkshire have every right to know from Mark Burns-Williamson why there has been little dialogue about this scheme with the people he serves.

"More fundamentally, he needs to ask the Home Office why West Yorkshire in particular, has been chosen for this pilot – is this racial profiling at a national scale?”

He also asked what will happen if people refuse to give consent for their fingerprints to be scanned and asked what safeguards will be put in place.

A spokesman for the Police and Crime Commissioner said officers have been using fingerprint scanning technology for a number of years. He said: “We recognise Just West Yorkshire’s input and will respond comprehensively to their questions in due course.

“What all this means is that police officers can quickly identify or rule out potential suspects without the need to return to a police station. This means that our officers can spend far more time on the frontline keeping us safe.

“We are committed to inclusion and transparency and will of course be keeping a close eye on the use of these devices throughout the trial period."

He said the devices can only be used without consent when an offence has been committed and fingerprints are not stored.

West Yorkshire Police Chief Inspector Ian Williams said the devices aim to increase efficiency.

He said: “There are many benefits arising from the use of the scanners. For instance, seriously injured individuals could be identified, enabling early and appropriate medical help, especially if they suffer life threatening allergies.

“It absolutely does not allow for the random targeting of any individual group and there is no associated payments for officers in identifying a suspect."