Fingerprint facts

Do you even know what your fingerprints look like? If you leave them at a crime scene, though, they could land you in jail. Without fingerprint evidence, our prisons would be half empty.

Here are quick facts on fingerprints:

A fingerprint is an impression of the friction ridges found on the inner surface of a finger or a thumb.

Friction ridges are also found on the palms of the hands and on the soles and toes of your feet. Fingerprints are formed while a baby is still in the womb.

You cannot get rid of your fingerprints – you also cannot change them, unless you do something drastic such as chopping off a finger.

Francois Vidocq, a Frenchman, pioneered the use of physical evidence to solve crimes. The date was 1812.

Every person’s fingerprint is unique. Not even identical twins have the same fingerprints. No two fingerprints have ever been found to be identical.

Secretions from the eccrine glands can leave impressions on smooth surfaces, such as glass, plastic, and polished wood.

A special type of powder is used to ‘lift’ fingerprints from such surfaces for purposes of identification.

Before there were computers, huge manual filing systems were used to categorise fingerprints. It could take days to try and match up a fingerprint.

Fingerprinting is the most commonly used forensic evidence worldwide. It is claimed to do better than DNA testing to identify murderers, rapists and other serious offenders, especially in countries where DNA testing is not widely used.

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