Police hail new fingerprint technology

A SUSPECTED rapist at large for 22 years and two men wanted for murder were finally arrested in Suffolk thanks to state-of-the-art fingerprinting technology, it has emerged.

A SUSPECTED rapist at large for 22 years and two men wanted for murder were finally arrested in Suffolk thanks to state-of-the-art fingerprinting technology, it has emerged.

Police last night hailed the success of the new equipment, which is being used at Ipswich police station but will now also be rolled out to Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

In both cases it is understood those detained had initially been apprehended for relatively minor offences - but the almost immediate fingerprint scan results alerted officers to the other allegations they faced.

Livescan, which was installed at Ipswich Police Station in 2004, allows officers to carry out real time checking of fingerprints against local and national databases of prints already on file.

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Sergeant Martin Memory , east of England representative for the national Livescan project and local project manager for Ipswich, said: “In both these cases it is likely the offenders were apprehended for a relatively minor offence but because we were able log their fingerprints and compare them to the national database we discovered they were wanted for more serious crimes.

“When someone is booked into custody we scan their finger and hand prints onto the computer system, which then shoots down the line using email type technology to the fingerprint bureau and links them with the national police database.

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“The computer then carries out a search to see if they are wanted in connection with anything else and we have the results in less than 10 minutes.

“It may be the prints are not on record but if they are, like in the two examples, we can make an identification and take the appropriate action.”

In the suspected rapist case, he was transferred to South Yorkshire police and has since been charged in connection with the rape.

In a second incident a vehicle stopped on the A12 where the occupants gave false names resulted in the tracing of men wanted for murder in the Metropolitan Police area.

Once established, the three Livescan units in Suffolk should process around 70% of all fingerprints in the county.

Sgt Memory said forces in Essex and Norfolk would also have the system up and running by the end of the year and that it would be a huge benefit in the tracing of criminals.

“Ipswich is the busiest police station in the county so it is important to have a slick operation.

“Some people come in and don't want to tell us anything at all and make up a name like Mickey Mouse, which can tie up an officer for some time while they are trying to find the right information.

“However the electronic system can give us a positive identification in minutes if the offender is on record as well as their full history.

“Moreover the fingerprints we have on the computer are of a higher quality and of greater detail than the ones on file using ink which makes the whole process much easier.

“For example we not only take finger but also palm prints which can record how people lean on things differently and make different impressions.

“Livescan helps us convict the guilty more efficiently and also helps clear the innocent of involvement in crime.”

§ Fingerprint identification is also known as dactyloscopy.

§ A fingerprint is an impression normally made by ink transferred from the peaks of friction skin ridges to a relatively smooth surface such as a fingerprint card.

§ No two finger or palm prints are ever exactly alike.

§ The world's first fingerprint bureau opened in 1987 in Calcutta, India.

§ The first UK fingerprint bureau was founded in Scotland Yard in 1901.

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