CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Scotland Launches Non-Numeric Fingerprint System

From Scotland's fingerprint service recently announced a radical overhaul in the way crime- scene evidence is assessed.

For the last 50 years, Scottish experts have used a standard for studying fingerprints which requires at least 16 matching characteristics between two prints for them to be considered a match. But the Scottish Fingerprint Service has recently announced the replacement of this points-based system with a non-numeric standard.

Introduced in England five years ago and also used in the US, the non-numeric system is based on a detailed assessment of the quality and uniqueness of the print, rather than the number of points which are the same. The non-numeric standard was a key commitment in the Scottish Fingerprint Service Action Plan for Excellence published in April.

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