Dactyloscopy chapter 1 value of fingerprints

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Fingerprint Science is a positive means of identification and in the hands of knowledgeable technician and expert; it is a potent weapon in the continuing fight against crime. Its formation started during the embryo growth stage and perfected within around four (4) months. Friction ridges can be distinctively observed on how these friction ridges:

  1. Design ends

  2. Joint

  3. Separate and

  4. Cross each other

The individualized characteristics are never affected by:

  1. Physical growth

  2. Aging of the human body

It has been established that in criminal investigation fingerprints is absolutely impermissible to misidentify a person or to classify a non-criminal as a criminal. In contrast, personal identification by means of fingerprints has an absolute certainty. The system is based on the undisputed fact after so many studies, that “NO TWO PERSONS HAVE EXACTLY THE SAME FINGERPRINT INDIVIDUAL CHARACTERISTICS.”

The ridges do not tell everything about a person neither his race nor sex, yet it surely a perfect means of identifying him. This contention verily adds to facilitate and mobilize the granting of justice and the punishment of the guilty in the light and shadow of a criminal act.
Surprisingly, fingerprint ridges start their development and differentiation on the third embryonic life and continue to grow until the complete development and growth factors governing the life span of man.


A. Concept

  • Fingerprints are composite of the ridge outlines formed/reproduced when perspiring. On non-hairy skin the ridges are formed by the different patterns determined to distinguish identity whereas on hairy skin, the ridges are irregular, slender and intermittent and do not form any pattern.

  • Fingerprints are found at the terminal phalanges

  • Known as papillary or frictional ridges (terminal/middle/basal phalanges)

  • Ridge characteristics are formed prior to birth and remain constant throughout life

  • There are two layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis)

  • Ridges are produced through the sweat gland excreta due to such physiological functions of the body.

  • Fingerprints are reproduced under the ten fingerprints card system

B. Historical Background

  • Fingerprints predates the Christian era

  • Evidenced by a prehistoric Indian picture writing of hand with crudely marked ridge patterns on a cliff in Nova Scotia

  • Ancient Chinese having business in Ancient Babylon used fingerprints through clay tablets

  • “The salvation of Paul with my own hand, which is the token in every epistle, so I write”– Saint Paul.

  • Emperor Te In Shi first to used fingerprint in China. In ancient China, thumb prints were found on clay seals.

C. Early Publications of Fingerprint Study

1684 – 1712 Nehemiah Grew – published his study describing ridges and pores of the hands and feet before the Royal Society of London, England.
1686 -1694 Marcelo Malpighi – An Italian Anatomist, professor of Anatomy at the University of Bologna known as the Grandfather of Fingerprint, discovered the two layers/friction of the skin known as Dermis (Stratum Corneum) and Epidermis (Stratum Mucosum).
1788 J.C.A. Mayer - studied the arrangement of skin and concluded that skin ridges is never duplicated in two persons.(PRINCIPLE OF INVIVIDUALITY)
1823 Johannes Evangelista Purkinje – a Czech Anatomist at the University of Breslau who described the ridges and giving them names; differentiating the fingerprint patterns (plain arch, tented arch, loops, oblique loop, whorl (almond), spiral, ellipse (elliptical whorl), circle (circular whorl) and double whorl (composite)). Known as the Father of Fingerprint.
1856 Herman Welcker – he established the PRINCIPLE OF PERMANENCY by printing his own palm and after forty-one years he printed again his palm and discovered that his prints did not change.

D. Fingerprint as a Method of Identification

1858 Sir William James Herschel – a British Chief Administrative Officer in Hoogly District of Bengal, India; introduced the use of fingerprint to prevent impersonation among laborers. The first person Herschel subjected to fingerprinting was Rajyadhar Konai – a local businessman, to frighten him out all thought of repudiating his signature to a contract. In 177, he requested permission to take fingerprints of prisoners in jail, but was denied.
1880 Dr. Henry Faulds – English doctor stationed in Tokyo, Japan. He published the practical use of fingerprints to identify criminals. He introduced the practical theory of reproducing fingerprints through the use of greasy materials. Discovered too the presence of skin furrows. He propagated the PRINCIPLE OF INFALLIBILITY.
1883 Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) – wrote an episode entitled “Mark Twain’s Life” in Mississippi, the episode relates how a murderer perpetrated the crime. Eleven years later, he caused the publication of Puddin Head Wilson, a noble based on dramatic fingerprint identification during a court trial. His story pointed on the infallibility of fingerprint identification.
1888 Sir Francis Galton – a British Anthropologist and Biologist who published his study on classification and filing system using all the ten (10) fingers. He assigned the patterns in to three (3) general types: ARCHES, LOOPS and WHORLS. He concluded that “no two prints are identical and an individual’s prints remain unchanged from year to year.”
1888 - 1901 Sir Edward Richard Henry succeeded Sir Herschel and published his study on the four divisions of fingerprint classification known as Henry Fingerprint Classification System. The first man to successfully apply fingerprints for identification. He was known as the Father of Modern Fingerprints.
1901 – Marked the official introduction of fingerprinting for criminal identification in England and Wales. Sir Henry simplified fingerprint classification and made it applicable to police identification. The basic Henry system with the modifications and extensions is used by the FBI and Law Enforcement agencies throughout US today.
Alphonse Bertillon – a French Criminologist who devised specific method of identifying criminals through anthropometric measurements and personal characteristics such as the color of eyes, scars and body measurements. His introduction was known as the Bertillon System
1891 - 1896 Juan Vucetich – an Argentinean Police Officer who installed fingerprint the first files as an official means of Criminal Identification in Argentina. He was known as the father of fingerprints in all Spanish-speaking countries.
In 1892, he made the first criminal fingerprint identification. He was able to identify a woman by the name of Rojas who murdered her two sons, and cut her throat in an attempt to place the blame on another. Her bloody print was left on a door post, proving her identity as the murderer.

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