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The aim of this investigation is to develop the techniques necessary for fingermark visualisation, the collection of such finger marks and developing the skills required for the identification.

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Introduction The aim of this investigation is to develop the techniques necessary for fingermark visualisation, the collection of such finger marks and developing the skills required for the identification. I will then be necessary to compare fingermarks against impressions, having considered individual characteristics, within the fingermark pattern, and their position in relation to each other - a technique used to produce evidence for a court of law. Theory The discovery that no two people - not even identical twins - have the same fingerprints was one of the most important discoveries in the history of forensic science. This has been known in ancient China and Babylon, but it was not until a scientific paper by Scottish physician Dr Henry Faulds that modern fingerprint analysis began. The first serious study of fingerprints was by English scientist Sir Francis Galton, who laid the foundation of a classification of fingerprints. He identified 3 basic patterns - arches, loops and whorls, and a police officer in India, Sir Edward Henry, added two more classes. With this new system in operation by 1896, crime detection in India soared. Fingerprint patterns are friction ridges in the skin, these patterns can also be found on the palms of hands and feet, which are formed at birth underneath the skin in a layer called papillae. They remain to be so vital as evidence because every finger pattern is unique to an individual, and perhaps more importantly, they remain unchanged - other than size or as a consequence of disease or injury, throughout an individuals life. ...read more.


It was then secured to a lid and placed inside a flask, which contained water and a small metal plate, which contained superglue on the surface of the water. The flask was then left in a heater for around 5-10 minutes. Superglue vapour reacts with water in the mark (bonds in seconds) will coalesce inside the print residue to reveal a latent print. The flask was then removed from the heater and the black plastic, was removed demonstrating a clear white fingermark. Placing it on a piece of clear plastic and covering it with some sellotape then preserved the print. Part 3 - Prints were made of each finger and each thumb on both hands by gently rolling them in an inkpad and then rolling from left to right onto an elimination sheet in the appropriate box. Part 4 - At this stage a magnifying glass was used to detail the ridge patterns in the fingermark and visually compared using the elimination sheet of the sample fingerprint impression (R. Middle Finger) for configuration, sequence and relationship. The patterns of similarity identified were recorded (numbered) in a clockwise direction, starting from the top right on the plastic covering the fingermark. The points of similarity were also recorded on the elimination sheet. Discussion The results of part one of the investigation were very good. The fingermarks lifted were very clear this enabled the identification of several details (Galton). It was clear early on in the investigation how easy it was to destroy the fingermark as the smearing or retouching of a mark was easily done, this ruled out these marks for be use in the comparison process (part four), in which a very clear mark was required. ...read more.


The method of using superglue to visualise the mark was effective at the time, but the preservation of the mark proved somewhat of a problem, this could have been maintained by taking a photograph. The elimination prints came out reasonably well and could be improved if someone other than myself were able to hold my fingers down in the correct angle. Fingerprinting is a skill and it takes a lot of time and effort to clearly identify a person from a set of marks. The laboratory conditions enabled the ability to obtain good marks and prints; this is compared to a crime scene, in which points in agreement are more difficult to find. Although fingerprint evidence remains one of the main types of evidence for identifying a suspects guilt or innocence, and the results of the investigation proving conclusive. Fingerprint comparison is not an exact science. Indeed if it was then identification would be a matter of statistical analysis and we wouldn't need the skills of the experts at all. Identification by fingerprint whether based on 8, 12, 16 or 24 points is a matter of opinion not fact. It has always been open to the defence to challenge fingerprint evidence, even where it apparently meets the national standard1. Whilst the 'numeric' standard continues to be applied across the UK, and some European Countries, others, notably, in North America, apply non-numeric standards, based on more principles, which determine the quality and sufficiency of the 'ridge detail' rather than numeric sufficiency. It would seem this system would have a greater scientific value. 1 Fingerprint Whorld, Vol 22 No 84 P78 Page 1 of 8 ...read more.

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