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Fingerprinting in the UK and Iraq

I was reminded of the uses of fingerprinting and the involvement of Brits in developing the technique forensically when I read this report from Iraq.

Major fingerprint advances, based on Wikipedia's timeline, include:

In 1880, in the scientific journal Nature, Dr Henry Faulds published the first paper on using fingerprints to prove innocence and guilt. The following month, Sir William Herschel, a British civil servant based in India, wrote to Nature saying that he had been using fingerprints to identify criminals since 1860.

In 1892, Sir Francis Galton published a detailed statistical model of fingerprint analysis and identification and encouraged its use in forensic science in his book Finger Prints. In London, the police remained quizzical. That year an Argentine police officer who had been studying Galton pattern types made the first criminal fingerprint identification.

In 1897 the world's first Fingerprint Bureau for use in criminal records opened in India. Azizul Haque and Hem Chandra Bose, working with Sir Edward Richard Henry, developed the fingerprint classification system.

In 1901 Scotland Yard opened the United Kingdom Fingerprint Bureau and used the Henry Classification System devised by Henry, Haque, and Bose.

Fingerprinting has been enormously helpful in detecting guilt and innocence., but it is not infallible because it depends on the person reviewing the prints. Allan Bayle, formerly senior forensic official at New Scotland Yard and perhaps the United Kingdom's foremost fingerprint expert, told the New Yorker , "It's a valuable craft. But is it a science like physics or biology? Well, of course not."

We posted on DNA "fingerprinting" here.


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