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Biometric Identification System

The Biometric Identification System will increase perimeter security and provide better visitor access to secure correctional centres across Queensland.

New systems are currently being installed at Lotus Glen and Townsville correctional centres. Biometric identification systems are already in use at Maryborough, Capricornia, Borallon, Brisbane Women's and Brisbane correctional centres.

In the lead up to implementation at each centre, staff and correctional centre visitors will be enrolled in the system. It will be a process that takes minutes, and will improve access procedures, visitor processing times and, most importantly, further strengthens perimeter security.

Read on to find out more about the system or download the Biometric Identification System fact sheet for visitors (PDF 156KB).

Why are they being installed?

Biometric systems are being installed under the perimeter security systems upgrade project in order to provide improved access control of persons entering a centre. The installation of the biometric systems will enhance the security of Queensland's high security correctional centres.

What is it?

The Biometric Identification System scans the finger, looking for key points such as where ridges begin, end, branch-off and merge, to create a mathematical template (or map). The template is stored on a computer database together with a photograph, name, address, date of birth and identification verification details such as a driver's licence number.

The template is not a fingerprint image and cannot be matched against actual fingerprint records held by law enforcement agencies. The system cannot convert the template back into a fingerprint image.

How does finger matching work?

When a visitor presents their finger, the biometric identification system converts the finger image to a finger template and then compares this to templates that are recorded in the computer database to look for a close match. Matches are given a score that represents the degree of similarity. A threshold is set and a score above the threshold is accepted as a valid match. If the score obtained is marginally below the threshold then the system will request the person to input their birthdate and will use this additional information to decide if a valid match can be made.

Who will this affect?

All correctional centre staff and visitors, over the age of 18 years, must be enrolled in the biometric identification system database. The biometric identification system will eliminate the need to allocate visitor identification numbers and it will allow more efficient access for approved visitors.

The new biometric system will allow correctional centre staff to process visitors much quicker. The system will be able to process about 50 enrolled visitors within 30 minutes.

Is the visitor identification database linked to any other database and can any other agency access it?

No. The biometric system database is not linked to any other database. The database can only be accessed by authorised corrective services staff.

Is the information protected by legislation?

Yes. The information is considered to be private details and is protected under section 341 of the Corrective Services Act 2006. Wrongful disclosure of the information is an offence and punishable by a substantial fine.

What happens to a visitor's biometric enrolment information?

Visitor biometric information is stored at the correctional centre and in a central computer database. Data relevant to a particular correctional centre is stored in a computer on-site to ensure large groups of visitors can enter the centre in the shortest possible time. A central computer database retains the details of visitors who require access to multiple centres, such as QCS staff, as it is not efficient to enrol and store their records individually at each site. The central database also provides a level of back-up for all centre-based computer systems.

What is it used for?

The biometric information is used to: verify the identity of all staff and visitors requiring entry into a correctional centre; enable visitors to enter and leave a correctional centre during authorised access times; to provide current information to authorised personnel regarding visits that are currently in progress, pending or completed, and; identity all staff and visitors within a correctional centre at any time.

How will the biometric system affect visitor access to a correctional centre?

When a visitor telephones a centre to make a visit booking some of their details will be taken and entered into the biometric system in order to create a visit booking. Visitors will still have to follow the usual visit application process which includes filling in a Form 27 and undergoing security checks.

What will visitors have to do to enrol?

When that person reports to visitor reception for their first visit, the biometric enrolment process will be completed. This means that a biometric template will be created by a finger scan, a photograph will be taken and personal identification documents will be checked. This person will now be able to gain access through the secure entrances within the gatehouse (at newer centres) or administration building (at older centres), provided they are on site during their authorised visit time.

What happens at visits once enrolment is done?

After being enrolled in the biometric system visitors need to present at the approved time. They place their enrolled finger on the scanning pad and this will bring up their photo and details to enable staff to verify their identity and confirm that there is a current visits booking. A table and locker number is then allocated.

The visitor then proceeds through the roto turn for a wand search prior to entering the secure entrance (also known as a man-trap) where they again place their finger on a scanning pad. Once their identity is verified the door opens automatically to allow entry to the centre.

After the visit is completed the visitor again enters the man trap and places their finger on the scanning pad. Once their identity is verified the door opens to allow them to leave the centre.

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Last updated: 04 August 2009