Police Scotland consider portable fingerprint scanners for forensic work

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According to a report by The Scottish.

The police are studying the use of portable fingerprint scanners in their forensic work as part of their ten-year strategy.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said the technology could significantly improve investigations into murders where the initial ‘golden hour’ plays a key role in gathering evidence.

There are more than 420,000 people with Scottish criminal records whose fingerprints are stored in the UK-wide IDENT1 fingerprint database, according to figures obtained by Scotland on Sunday.

Using the handheld devices, Scottish police would be able to find an instant match to a suspect’s fingerprints in the database while remaining at the scene of the crime, according to forensics officer Tom Nelson at the SPA.

Additionally, Nelson said scientific advances would soon allow police to generate descriptions of perpetrators based on a DNA sample.

“The police strategy talks about mobile devices being used at crime scenes,” Nelson said. “If we can get this kind of technology into devices, whether it’s cell phones or whatever, it’s starting to allow us to bring science to the scene of the crime. A photograph could be taken of a fingerprint and it could be immediately checked against the national fingerprint database. You would know right away if it’s someone you might be interested in.

Privacy campaigners have raised concerns about police use of biometric data after Scotland recently revealed on Sunday that photos of people who have not committed a crime are being retained for up to 12 year.

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) has produced a report recommending that an independent biometrics commissioner be appointed to oversee police use of fingerprints, DNA and photographs.

There are almost 630,000 images of more than 376,000 people in the Scottish Criminal History System (CHS), while police hold the DNA profiles of almost 330,000 people, according to figures obtained under the Crimes Act. freedom of information.

Nelson said police forces should consult with the public before deciding whether to expand the fingerprint database to include the entire population of the country.

“To me, this is a decision that the public and the government should make,” Nelson said. “What he wouldn’t do is solve all crimes because a person won’t always leave biometrics good enough for identification. But if the public decided that was the way to go, it would certainly improve some of the work that we do.

Advances in DNA profiling mean that within five to 10 years, police will be able to piece together a description of an attacker, including their hair color, shape and height, Nelson said.

Earlier this year, the UK Home Secretary ordered UK police services to delete millions of images of innocent people illegally stored in a national police database upon request.

Article topics

criminal identification | fingerprints | forensic medicine | police

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