Police are now able to identify a person they are taking enforcement action against more easily with a new automated system.

The system, which went live yesterday, improves the sharing of information between Immigration New Zealand and the police.

"This electronic access is another step towards an improved system of
managing the identities of those entering the criminal justice system,"
says Manager: National Forensic Services Inspector John Walker.

"The improvements allow better linking between government agencies to ensure a
cross-sector view of people that Police and INZ are both dealing with."

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Police will have 24/7 access to the system, and said it was particularly valuable when they have arrested someone or suspect that a person was a foreign national.

Walker said the sharing of information with INZ would allow the agency to take the necessary compliance action against a non-New Zealander who may be
breaching their visa conditions.

The improvements are in addition to recent automated access by police to driver licence
images held by the NZ Transport Agency.

Currently, there is also a manual process where police requested information from INZ via a contact centre.

The improvements is part of the Progressive Steps project, which is a response to a Government inquiry into the Smith/Traynor incident.

A call for an overhaul of systems and information sharing between government agencies was made after a chain of shortcomings and failings allowed Phillip John Smith, a murderer and child sex offender, to escape to Brazil.