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July 7, 2015 Richard Hartley

Fingerprints Do Change But Not Enough To Beat Forensics

The important of fingerprints in police investigations and court cases cannot be overstated. Since they were first accepted as evidence in court in the 1920s, fingerprints have become vital to many cases, whether proving guilt or innocence, and recent news has even suggested that they can offer forensics teams more than this.

A new technology is being trialled in Yorkshire that can identify whether a person was in possession of any of a number of different types of drug by using a single fingerprint sample. However, since the first use of fingerprints in court, there have always been some questions raised over their efficacy, especially in the long-term.

One study, conducted by a team of computer experts, has put one question to rest, having shown that although fingerprints do change marginally over a period of time, these changes still fall within the accepted margin of error. Essentially, this means that fingerprints remain an essential forensic tool for investigators and for courts.

The study was conducted by professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University, Anil Jain, and former PhD student Soweon Yoon. They analysed more than 15,000 sets of prints taken from offenders that had been apprehended multiple times over a number of years and had a ten-finger sample taken each time. Samples must have been taken a minimum of five years apart, with some of the samples spanning 12 years.

The samples were then analysed, and it was determined that even with a 12 year gap, forensic testing identified the prints as matching. There were some minor changes, as a person’s prints evolved over time, but the primary markers did not change significantly enough to impact forensic findings.

The importance and significance of fingerprints and how they are used means that there will always be questions over the validity of their use, whether forensic fingerprinting is entirely reliable, and whether there should be better alternatives used in court cases viagra acheter. However, with each test and analysis that is levelled at this technique, the results have always shown fingerprints to be a reliable forensic tool.